Foreward

Friday, 17 February 2012

Our First Home


One day Andre invited us to follow him up the Budaiya Road not far from his house and we drove into a building site at a small place called Maqshar. He took us around a new building that was virtually finished and he told us that this was going to be an exclusive private club and restaurant called “Trilogy”, which was made up of three distinct areas, restaurant, disco and lounge bar area.
Around the back of this building there were ten small villas owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa bin Ali AL Khalifa, who was leasing the land to Andre’s for his Trilogy club. Andre told us to rent one of these and he offered to introduce us to Sheikh Mohammed and he was sure he would rent us a villa for a very low rent.
We duly arranged to meet Sheikh Mohammed at his office in the Ministry of Justice & Islamic Affairs, where he worked as the Director of Administration. After some negotiation, we walked away agreeing a rent of BD100/- per month, which was around £180/-. We moved into Villa No.1, which had 2 bedrooms (one en-suite, which Bob took) plus a main bathroom and a combined living room/dining room and kitchen.
Our little house, which was one of ten in the small compound, and not one had never been lived in as Sheikh Mohammed had been in dispute with the builder for years, so they had just lay empty.
Shortly after we had moved in, we saw a very old tatty Hillman Hunter drive into our compound. The driver was an Indian and the old Bahraini man in the car turned out to be Sheikh Khalifa, Sheikh Mohammed our landlord’s father.
At first, I thought he was one of the local farm workers, as he was driving an old car and looked very scruffy indeed. He was of course a millionaire and turned out to a real character and offered to help with anything we needed. He popped in and out regularly and he could not do enough for us.
Bob and I could not afford furniture so we decided to make our own. We went to one of the carpenter’s shops in Manama and got them to cut up all the required pieces of 18mm plywood for a six of chairs to make up a corner unit with four coffee tables. We took this wood back to our house and screwed it together and then covered everything in deep pile dark brown carpet. We had some cushions made in lighter multi-coloured velour for the base and backs of the chairs. We then had some smoked glass cut to sit recessed into the top of our coffee tables.
One of our customers who everyone called “Horrid” (real name David Blundell-Williams) was importing containers of furniture packs from the UK, which he sold on to traders in Bahrain. Horrid mentioned to us one day that he had some kitchen units and other odds and ends in his store and would Bob and I take these in exchange for his service bill? We went and saw these things and did a deal with him. Shortly after we had a new fitted kitchen and our little house was taking shape at last.

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