Living in Baghdad, Iraq

1973-1975

  
  
 
 

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Drive from Baghdad to Amman 1975

 

British Club, Baghdad

British Club, Baghdad 1974

 

British Club, Baghdad 

 

British Club, Baghdad                                                                                                British Club Sports Day

 

Sports Day

 

Sister 3/4                                                                                                                                                                     Sisters 1,2 & 3/4

 

Sister 4/4 & Mum                                                                                                                                   Sister 4/4 & Stan

 

 

Much of the social life revolved around the British Club in Baghdad, particularly the swimming pool which allowed us to cool off during the hot summers.  We all became excellent swimmers.  There was table tennis, badminton, snooker and a restaurant and bar.  As expatriates we celebrated events not normally noticed in England; St. Georges Day, St. Andrews Day and The Queens Birthday.  As there was no television, English cinema or theatre we organised our own entertainment;  film nights, quiz nights and sports events.  They also did a wicked curry on a Friday. 

 

My mother, Northern Iraq

 

British Club, Baghdad

 

British Embassy, Baghdad

Cricket Match at British Embassy, Baghdad     (I'm fielding at fine leg)                                                               British Embassy, Baghdad

 

Women's Race - British Embassy                                                                          Men's Race - British Embassy

 

When we arrived in Baghdad the British did not have diplomatic relations with Iraq and all our diplomatic affairs were managed by the Swedish.  The Iraqi President at the time was Ahmed Hassan Al-Bakher of the Ba'ath Party and his deputy was somebody called Saddam Hussein.  Whilst we were there diplomatic relations were restored and we were able to play cricket matches on the Embassy lawns.

 

Iraq is awash with archaeological treasures: Babylon, Urr, Agar Guf and apparently the Garden of Eden which is reputed to be where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers meet.

 

Babylon, Iraq

Ishtar Gate, Babylon, 1974

 

 

Sister 2/4 Babylon 1974                                                                                           The Hanging Gardens of Babylon 1974

 

Babylon was the capital of southern Mesopotamia from the early 2nd millennium to the early 1st millennium BC.  Perhaps the world's first great capital.  It seemed to me that most of it was still waiting to be excavated as the site had many mounds of earth which looked unnatural.  Antiquities such as pieces of pottery and coins could still be literally picked off the ground.  Locals were trying top sell us pieces that they claimed were ancient and valuable.  They may or may not have been genuine, but in any case selling the real antiquities was illegal.  The Hanging Gardens of Babylon is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and nearly 3000 years old. The gardens did not actually “hang” but were roof gardens laid out on a series of ziggurat (pyramid-like) terraces that were irrigated by pumps from the Euphrates Rivers.  Now it looks like a patch of desert.  Natural pitch came to the surface near here and as a consequence I was able to walk along a "tarmac" road that was up to 4000 years old. No tourism, no souvenir shops, no English speaking guides - just a few dusty locals trying to sell us bottles of Pepsi as well as a few of the exhibits.

 

Golden Mosque - Samarra.

Golden Mosque, Samarra.

 

Golden Mosque, Samarra.

 

Iraqi Steam Engine

 

Camping on Lake Razazah

We saw our fair share of ancient ruins and also enjoyed some camping trips along the shores of Lake Razazah. We met a couple of local lads who befriended us and then disappeared into town only to return with bread, salad and beer.  They bought some locally caught fish which they baked for us on an open fire.  The hospitality here was wonderful.

 

Lake Razazah, Iraq 1974

 

Camping on Lake Razazah, Iraq 1974

 

Daily Life

Our house, Al-Masbah, Baghdad  (near the River Tigris and Polish Ambassador's Residence)               My Mother and Sister 3/4 on a Camel

 

Me and Michael Forster                                                                                                                                   Me at the British Club

 

Sister 1/4's Birthday Party

 

 

Sisters & their friends                                Teenage Party - Left to right: Manon Meihuizen, me, Teddy Lowrie, Przemek Siuda.                   British Club

 

Children's Social Life, Baghdad

 

Noriko Kawaguchi                                                                                                    Playing on the Roof

 

Noriko Kawaguchi

 

Our social life was fantastic.  The British Club, Alwiya Club, British Embassy and self made entertainment in the huge houses of the diplomatic community gave us a number of wonderful memories.  We even managed regular horse riding trips along the bund of the River Tigris.

 

Agar Guf?                                                                       Spiral Minaret, Samara                                        Sister 1/4 Washing before a Mutton Grab

 

Mutton Grab                                                                                                            Washing Up

 

 

International Children's Centre, Baghdad

 

7th Grade International Children's Centre, Baghdad                                                                                           Me at Lunar Park Fair, Baghdad

 

7th Grade - Back Row: Zlatan (Yugoslavia), Teddy (USA), Noha (Egypt), Evgeny (Bulgaria) Front Row: Yuri (Japan), Rita (India), Mrs. Al Rawi (USA), Kari (Sweden), Manon (Holland), Me - absent (England).

 

Our schooling was at the American system International Children's Centre (ICC) in Baghdad.  I was there for 6th and 7th grade between 1973 and 1975.  Unfortunately I was off sick when the class photo (above) was taken.  School was great fun and despite limited facilities the teaching was excellent.  I discovered a life-long love of Science under the excellent tutorage of Mrs. Al Rawhi (pictured above).

 

 

 

ICC Baghdad, 1976?                                                                                                9th Grade - ICC Baghdad, 1976?

 

9th Grade inc. Harvey Richardson, Jacek Furmanek, Tomek Sadowski, Noriko Kawaguchi, Dusan Stojanovic, Sabiha Ibrahim, William Young.

 

International Children's Centre (ICC) has it's own group section on Facebook if you want to catch up with old friends: 

 

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_7913633059 or email: iccbaghdad@groups.facebook.com

 

                                         

Recital at International Children's Centre

 

Iraqi Friends

 

Baghdad Sand Dunes                                                                                                River Tigris

 

Me on a donkey  ....                                                      ....and a Horse and cart

 

Holiday in Jordan - 1975

In March 1975 we drove to Amman, Jordan for a holiday.  We took in Petra, Wadi Rhum, the Dead Sea and Debeen.  I spent my 13th Birthday on a beach in Aqaba where I tried water skiing for the first (and last) time.

 

Petra 1975                                                                    Sister 4/4 Petra 1975

 

Petra 1975                                                                  Wadi Rhum 1975

 

Floating in The Dead Sea, Spring 1975                                                                                                            Salt

 

Drive from Baghdad to London - Summer 1975

As my parents are clearly barking mad they decided to use the cash from the 7 repatriation airfares provided by my step-father's company to drive back to England.  This entailed squeezing themselves, my four sisters and me into a Hillman Hunter estate car.  This turned out to be an inspired decision as we had a wonderful month-long holiday taking in nine countries:  Syria, Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia, Austria, Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium and France.

We got a local metal shop to fashion a bench seat in the luggage area of the car, for my two smallest sisters, and add a custom built roof rack.  Despite having no air-conditioning, we set off in August in blistering summer temperatures, staying the night in Mosul before embarking on a 17 hour journey across Syria to Adana in Turkey.  Soon after leaving Mosul we had our windscreen shattered by a passing truck and had to drive the rest of the journey with an emergency windscreen - a plastic device which had metal bars for strength and was held in place by slamming the side flaps into the front doors.  Not surprisingly Adana did not stock Hillman Hunter windscreens but a resourceful mechanic cut another windscreen to fit.  A little later we actually broke down completely.  After a short wait the engine would start again only to stop after a few miles.  We stuttered into a local Turkish garage where, despite obvious language barriers, the problem was quickly diagnosed as a dust clogged air filter.  This was quickly remedied by cleaning it with compressed air and we were soon on our way.

The Turkish Mediterranean coast was still undiscovered by mass tourism and we stayed at relatively quiet resorts such as Alanya and Antalia.  All along this coastline we found miles upon miles of deserted beaches before getting a ferry to Greece from Gallipoli.

Deserted Mediterranean Beaches - Turkey 1975                                        Glyphas, Greece - 1975

 

We spent an idyllic few days at a tiny fishing village before heading north to Athens and then the mountains of Yugoslavia and Austria.

Perfect (empty) Beach in Greece - Summer 1975                                           Athens

 

Yugoslavia

 

We had forgotten how cold Europe could be, especially in the mountains, even in Summer.  We had no winter clothes, however it was nice to experience western consumer goods for the first time in two years - particularly chocolate and fresh milk.

Austrian-Italian Border - Summer 1975

 

Austria                                                                                                                           Austrian Picnic

 

Austrian Picnic

 

The final leg was the car ferry back to England and overnight in a guest house, where we had bacon and eggs for breakfast.  We knew then that we were really home.  An epic journey in a cramped and hot car - but one we would definitely do again.

 
  

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Living in Baghdad

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