Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Three months in…

So, I moved into my own apartment exactly three months ago yesterday. The time has flown by and I’m still loving being on my own. I love days when I can just sit around in my pajamas and get on with work or reading or writing. It is total bliss.

I have finally put up my paintings and mirrors too – so the flat is really starting to take shape.

I still hate cooking – but eventually came up with a solution. I spoke to a couple of friends about meal plans which are delivered to your doorstep on a daily basis. I made a few enquiries and ended up going with Daintree – because they have the option of delivering just one meal a day. Every Monday they send out the menu choices for the following week, I fill in the form online, and then six evenings a week, one main course, one side dish and one snack are delivered to me. My breakfast is usually tea, almonds and a banana, and one meal I can manage on my own – pasta, cottage cheese and crackers, or whatever. And then one meal is a proper hot meal. The meals are all healthy and low-carb and I’m happy with that.

I’m loving not having a TV. By the end of January I was already on my fifth book of the year – and my goal for the year is to read 30 books. A friend asked me if I’d perhaps be able to finish all the unread books on my shelves. I told him that if that pile of books was Mount Everest, I’m not even at base camp yet! There’s a long way to go. And I still need to sort out that second bookcase.

I’ve discovered I quite like plants. I inherited my mum’s curly bamboo, but have also received two orchids, one Chinese money plant (Pilea peperomioides), a prayer plant (Maranta) and some basil. The basil was brought by a friend from Spinney’s for a small get-together. I put what we didn’t use in a pot and it hasn’t stopped growing. Miraculously, all the plants are still alive.

Basil (left) and Sybil – the prayer plant (right)

I have some very intriguing neighbours. One guy walks around naked/semi-naked most of the time. Seriously, he needs curtains more than I do. I actually quite like not having curtains and I think putting them up will make my room seem smaller – but I do need to sort that out at some point. When I buy mine, I might buy him some too.

Oh, and the laundry guy has not dared to show his face at my front door.

Leave a comment »

On my own…

As I mentioned earlier, I moved into my own place just over seven weeks ago (I’m loving it) and my parents left exactly three weeks ago today…

The last few days of my parents being in Dubai were frustrating – they seemed to be aiming for the most disorganised move in history (and I’m still dealing with some of the fallout from that, such as DEWA deposit refunds, etc.) and I was looking forward to them leaving so that I could enjoy just ‘being’ in my flat.

But, when we got to the airport and said our goodbyes, I bawled my eyes out… which led to my dad getting upset (Mum seemed fine)… And thinking about it now still makes me a bit teary. On my way home, I was debating whether to attend a friend’s 40th that evening. I just wasn’t in the mood. But when I walked in the front door and took a look at the boxes (of junk, admittedly) that Mum had left behind in my living room, I rolled my eyes and got ready. And I’m glad I went – it was a fun night.

The next morning I felt fine – I woke up in my quiet flat and knew I’d made the right decision not to go with them.

But then I suddenly had to think about what to have for lunch. And what to have for dinner. And then repeat the process all over again the following day. And the day after that. I’ve discovered a few things:

  • I absolutely hate cooking. Cooking for one person is a complete waste of time. Even making a simple salad is tedious – washing vegetables, chopping vegetables, making the dressing – and ten minutes later it’s all gone and you have to clear up. I’ve made eggs, stir fries and pasta – but I don’t like the heat of the open flame on the stove either. I do seem to have mastered brown rice though (without the rice cooker).
  • Don’t use the salad spinner on the kitchen counter. This might sound like common sense to you – but as I put the leaves in the spinner I wondered where the water went… and five seconds later I had my answer. Right out of the bottom of it! I did laugh out loud though. At my own stupidity.
  • Don’t go to the supermarket on a Saturday afternoon. I already knew this but had reconfirmation just before the New Year. I thought I’d stock up on a few items before VAT kicked in and I think everyone had the same idea.
  • IKEA has ruined my dream. When I moved here, I bought an Expedit cabinet/bookcase – 185 x 185 cm – for my books… and my plan when I moved was to get another one to go next to it in my living room so I could have my wall-to-wall books. Well, Expedit no longer exists. It was replaced with Kallax, which is almost identical, except it’s 182 x 182 cm. Can I live with that difference of 3 cm and the shelves being 1.5 cm lower on one side of the wall? No, I don’t think so. I need to find other options (I’m currently trawling Dubizzle, hoping someone is selling off their old bookcase).
  • I love sitting at home with the balcony doors open and the birds singing but the flat gets so dusty so quickly!
  • My new laundry guy has been scamming me for the last six weeks – charging me more than I should be paying. I only discovered this because he was away and someone else who works there dropped off the laundry. Oh, just wait until he gets back…
  • Zaatar w Zeit don’t deliver to my new address. I can’t describe the devastation I felt.

Well, I think that about covers all the important things I’ve learned over the last few weeks. I’m sure there will be more revelations as time goes on, so watch this space!

 

1 Comment »

A new chapter…

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything apart from the weekly and monthly tarot forecasts! I’m still training with Pete but haven’t posted anything about those sessions either, but here’s a quick update with what’s been going on…

Four weeks ago today I moved into my own place. For the very first time. I know – it’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally done it! Why?

Earlier this year, my parents started toying with the idea of moving to India… and there was absolutely no way I was going with them. They tried very hard to get me to change my mind (guilt, emotional blackmail and so on) but I wasn’t having any of it. There were a couple of times where I thought it would be the easier thing to do, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I imagined myself living in Business Bay (I don’t know why) with a balcony where I could have my tea and read/write every day, but… back in August, a friend of mine and I came to see a couple of flats in a quiet neighbourhood behind the Trade Centre Roundabout and I fell in love with the building. The flats I saw were nice – one was a duplex with an amazing walk-in wardrobe and the other was a single-level flat, which was a bit bigger and brighter. I spend a lot of time at home and wanted somewhere which would feel spacious. Anyway, saw the flats, liked them, but I wasn’t sure about the neighbourhood and getting around (I don’t drive) and I also felt August was a bit too soon to start paying rent as my parents wouldn’t be leaving until December.

Fast forward to October. I’d seen a few flats, nothing I particularly liked – including one in the building where I used to live. I emailed the property manager to see if there were any apartments going in the building I’d been to in August. There were two. On Diwali, Mum and I went to see them and I just fell in love with the flat. It was different from the one I’d seen in August – it was bigger – and I immediately knew where all my (parents’) furniture would slot in and I imagined wall-to-wall books on one side. A week later I’d signed the contract and moved in a couple of weeks after that!

After getting quotes from a few moving companies, I decided to go with Emovers. I’d heard horror stories about moving companies here and how you have to watch them carefully and make sure they handle things properly. But I was so impressed with them. They were on time, polite, efficient, careful and quick. For example, my bookcase is an IKEA one, made of up 25 squares. When they were packing the books, they labelled the boxes A1, A2, B3, etc so that they would know in which square to slot the books in when they were unpacking! I’d highly recommend them – and even emailed them the following day to tell them how happy I was.

A week before I moved, my parents had some friends over for dinner. ‘What are you most looking forward to when you move?’ one of them asked me. ‘Peace and quiet,’ I replied, without even thinking about it. ‘Yes, but you know, sometimes that just bites you on the ass,’ she said. Excuse me? Talk about raining on my parade! I didn’t really know what to say to that so I didn’t say anything. Of course, the perfect response came to me three days later (as usual). ‘Oh, but I quite like that,’ is what I should have said.

My parents asked how I’d manage for food (I can’t cook to save my life) – I told them I’d learn off YouTube! And probably lose a bit of weight in the process (not a bad thing). I joked with a friend a couple of days ago that I’d have to attend networking events where they served canapes and attend parties I wouldn’t have considered in the past, just for the food! Oh, how we laughed.

I’ve been spoilt living in Dubai – living at home, with a car and driver, with live-in help and having all my meals cooked, laundry done, bed made (!) and so on. I’m now dealing with cleaners who say they’re coming on a certain day and then don’t show up or answer their phone (FFS) – which is just frustrating. I don’t miss the live-in help. I love waking up and pottering around in my pajamas without having to put on a dressing gown, I love the peace and quiet (I chose not to have a TV), I’m even enjoying the birds that sit on my balcony every afternoon (and crap everywhere). The bamboo, orchid and basil plant are all thriving – which is surprising considering my office/house in London used to be the place where plants went to die.

My parents leave on Tuesday and I’ve been going home for most meals – my fridge is pretty bare at the moment. So it’s been a lot of back and forth. I haven’t put up my mirrors and paintings yet and there are still a few things to sort out, but once they’ve gone and I can spend more time at home, I’ll be able to do that.

So this is my new chapter… wish me luck!

A.

2 Comments »

Sometimes it snows in April

Years ago, my mum told me that she’ll always remember when she’d heard the news that Elvis had died – where she was, what she was wearing, etc. And my thoughts were: ‘Weirdo’.

But now I know what she meant.

On Thursday night I was at the Capital Club party when someone mentioned that Prince had died. ‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ I said. ‘No, really,’ he replied. And he showed me a headline on the Huffington Post website. What?? I didn’t react for about ten minutes. I carried on with my conversation, but my mind kept flicking back to the headline. I checked my phone and saw several WhatsApp messages from friends, telling me that I was the first person they thought of when they heard ‘the news’. Shit, this was real.

My mum’s message said: ‘I’m so sorry. I was hoping it was a hoax.’

And that made me want to both laugh and cry at the same time. Every few months, our family chat group on WhatsApp will get a message from my mum saying: ‘Adam Sandler has died!’ or ‘Rowan Atkinson has died!’

  • Us: No, Mum, it’s a hoax.
  • Mum: But it’s on Facebook!
  • Us: Mum, it’s a hoax. Is it on the news?
  • Mum: No.
  • Us: Then it’s a hoax.
  • Mum: Why would anyone do that??

Sadly, this time it wasn’t a hoax. I considered going home as I was no longer in the mood to be out, but my friends pointed out that all I’d be doing at home was watching the news and crying. So I stayed out, and I’m glad I did. I wondered whether my friends thought I was mad for mourning the loss of someone I never even knew. They assured me that that wasn’t the reason they think I’m mad.

I discovered Prince in 1989. Obviously I’d heard of him and knew some of his songs, but I really discovered him in 1989 and realised then that the man was a genius. I had every album. I subscribed to Controversy – the fanzine about all things Prince. I had books, posters, sheet music, T-shirts, CDs, vinyls, videos (yes, videos). I saw him in concert nine times – the first time in 1990 and the last time in 2007 – and each time he was incredible. I loved him.

Just a few weeks ago I told myself that the next time he was in concert in Europe I would go, wherever it was.

And now he’s gone. He was right: ‘All good things, they say, never last.’

You can listen to the original version here.

Leave a comment »

Dubai 2016: Week 12

Another busy week!

After the gym on Sunday, Dad and I decided to go out for lunch. I wanted to look at some dresses at the Dubai Mall – I was having my birthday drinks on Friday and wanted to look around. He wanted to look at electronics. So we decided to have lunch at Markette, opposite the Aquarium.

We got there at around 2pm. We both ordered the smoked salmon galette, which was much heavier than I thought it would be. I ordered a mixed salad on the side and Dad had the seafood chowder.

After lunch we walked to Debenhams. I was so full – and perhaps trying on clothes after a heavy meal wasn’t the best idea. There was absolutely nothing that I really liked. I tried on one dress, but it looked awful. In the end, I decided I’d wear something I already had.

We walked to the electronics section and stopped at Samsung. I had a look at the new Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, which I’d had my eye on for a while. I decided I’d buy it, and in the end Dad bought it for me as an early birthday present. We went home and I spent the rest of the afternoon setting up my new phone and then worked into the night.

I had a session with Pete on Monday morning. A friend of ours was in town on his way back to Bali so we met him for lunch at the JW Marriott Marquis. I’d been craving Italian food (no idea why) but the Italian restaurant, Positano, was closed for lunch. We ended up at Kitchen 6, the ‘international’ restaurant. There was so much food – I started with some hummus and salad. I then wandered over to the Italian section, but I’d also spotted the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, so I ended up with that instead. The trouble with buffets is I just don’t know what to eat (or when to stop).

After lunch, we went back home. I did a bit of work and then went to Arabic.

After the gym on Tuesday, I got on with some work. That evening, I went to Bahri Bar for a friend’s birthday. It was ladies night so we got three free glasses of Prosecco. We also had some food – and because we had Entertainer vouchers, two of the dishes were free. I was home by 10.30pm and did a bit more work.

After my session with Pete on Wednesday, I worked until the late afternoon. I had a piano lesson and then went straight to Arabic. It took me 20 minutes to get to the Trade Centre from Said Tower 1, which is almost just across the road! Traffic is crazy at that time of day.

I went to yoga on Thursday morning. By the time I got home after running some errands it was time for lunch. I also came home to this box:

2016-03-24 13.28.03

And when I opened it and put the pieces together I had a terrarium for my desk.

2016-03-24 13.10.33

Apparently it needs minimal care (thank God) and it’s very cute.

I got back into my pajamas and worked for the rest of the day. I didn’t want to go out that night as I knew Friday would be busy and I didn’t want to be tired. Clearly, this is a sign of age.

My sister arrived with her friends early on Friday morning. She was staying at the Shangri-La for Easter weekend, but popped in for a while to say hi on Friday morning. After lunch I walked over to the Shangri-La to get my hair and nails done, and she and her friends joined me at the salon. I relaxed for the rest of the day (the three of them went to the Dubai Mall).

That evening I’d invited a few friends to celebrate my birthday at the Ikandy at the Shangri-La poolside. I got there a little before 8pm and was really pleased with the area they’d arranged.

2016-03-25 19.51.32

Two friends arrived at 8pm on the dot as they didn’t want me sitting there by myself. Isn’t that so sweet?? We chatted for a while and opened the vodka – and by 8.30pm a few more people had arrived. I’d asked the manager to serve the food between 9 and 11pm – and there was so much of it! I think everyone had a good time – I know I did. I’d asked friends not to bring presents, but some just couldn’t help themselves. By 2am I’d signed the tab and two friends and I decided to have a drink at the Balcony Bar before they walked me home with my presents.

I spent most of the next day relaxing. I opened my presents (mostly books, alcohol and wine glasses), had some lunch and got back into bed while my sister and her friends traipsed around Mirdif City Centre all day. I met them in the evening at Ikandy for a drink before heading to Zuma for a late dinner. It was a very chilled evening…

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

Leave a comment »

Dubai 2016: Week 11

I had another busy week and a whole lot of work to do. I managed to fit in a few gym and yoga sessions too…

I met a friend for coffee on Sunday afternoon. We went to The Brass at the new Citywalk extension. We sat outdoors – but we didn’t find the chairs particularly comfortable and we also had to keep swatting the flies away! I guess the weather is starting to get warmer, which brings the flies.

I had a busy Monday – with a session with Pete, a piano lesson and Arabic in the evening. I often get no real work done on a Monday (just emails and other random bits and pieces) as I’m in and out of the flat all day. I’d wanted to go to Art Night at DIFC but by the time I was done with Arabic it was late and I was knackered.

I did make it to Art Dubai on Tuesday evening though. I’d been invited to the opening and took a friend (V) with me. We got there at around 8pm (it took us an hour to get to the Madinat because of an accident on Sheikh Zayed Road) and had a look around. It was pretty busy, considering it was the Patron’s Circle opening – and people were more interested in being seen than actually looking at any art. We decided to walk through the two halls and then get some food and drinks, before heading over to the main bar. I bumped into another friend and V and I joined him and his friends for some drinks. We left just before midnight, both of us having early starts on Wednesday.

I was tired on Wednesday, and very tempted to have a nap after my session with Pete! But I had work to do, so I didn’t. I also had to finish off my Arabic homework and go to class!

I thought I’d be able to get a lot of work done on Thursday. I went to yoga in the morning and had lunch with NP at Zuma. I hadn’t seen her in months so it was great to catch up. We both ordered the business lunch – you get a miso soup, two starters and a main course for AED 130. I ordered the beef skewers and prawn gyoza for starters and the seabass for my main course. She ordered the Zuma salad and the gyoza for her starters and had the black cod for her main course. We also ordered a portion of the tuna tataki from the a la carte menu for the table (which mostly I ate).

I got home after lunch, got into my pajamas and settled down to do some work. About 30 minutes later, the doorbell rang. Some friends of ours were in town and popped in to see us before leaving that evening. They stayed until 7pm – so I got no work done. I started working after dinner and didn’t finish until 3.30am.

I was tired on Friday but carried on working for some of the day. I met up with a friend for dinner. We went to Loca at Souk al Bahar. We got a table in the bar area and ordered some drinks while it was still happy hour. She had wine, I had margaritas. We also ordered a portion of the spinach and artichoke dip to share. I later realised that there was no artichoke in it at all, it was just spinach. We both had the jalapeno prawns for our main course.

2016-03-18 20.58.24

It’s definitely my favourite thing on their menu. When we left Souk al Bahar, we got into the cab and I suggested we go to Zuma for a drink. It wasn’t even 10pm yet, but Zuma was pretty empty when we got there. We only stayed for a drink and left. It took me almost 40 minutes to get home from Zuma – there was so much traffic at that time of night!

I took it easy on Saturday and then went for a walk on the beach. We went early and caught the sun setting.

2016-03-19 17.46.45

I was home by 7.15pm. Dad and I had dinner together and another week was over.

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

1 Comment »

Dubai 2016: Week 10

I had a really hectic week and struggled to find time to get any work done! I managed to squeeze in a lot of exercise, but not a whole lot of work.

After my yoga class on Sunday evening, my parents picked me up from Village Mall and we went to Markette at Box Park for dinner. They’d been there for dinner the week before and had liked it. The funny thing is: they both thought the menu was two-sided, but it actually opened so there were four sides to it – they’d missed out half the menu! We shared the calamari and shish taouk platter for starters.

2016-03-06 21.13.34

The calamari was just average, I thought. The shish taouk was very good – the chicken was tender and juicy. After that, my mum ordered a soup for her main course, my dad ordered the grilled corn and chicken salad and I ordered a galette (an open crêpe, if you like) with turkey ham, cheese and two fried eggs.

2016-03-06 21.44.35

I was really full after that, not to mention sleepy after my yoga class.

Monday was busy – I had a session with Pete on Monday and a piano lesson that afternoon. I also had my Arabic class that evening! An exhausting day.

I went to an IBWG lunch at the Trade Centre Club on Tuesday afternoon. I hadn’t been in a while – I was swamped with work during the January lunch and had the flu during the February lunch so I thought I’d better make an effort for March or risk my membership lapsing. I was on a table with just three other women, but we had some interesting conversations. I was home by 3pm and then decided I’d go to a yoga class at 4pm. After that, I worked for the rest of the evening.

I woke up on Wednesday and it was pouring! It was so dark outside, I wasn’t even sure what time it was. It usually makes no difference to me when it rains as I barely leave the house, but on this particular day I had places to go. And when 5 minutes of rain leads to 5 hours of traffic, I was dreading it. I had a session with Pete in the morning, managed to do some work until about 3pm and then headed off to DIFC for my meeting at Caffe Nero. It was still drizzling by that time. At 4.30pm I went over to the Conrad as I had a schoolfriend staying there for a few days and we were meeting for coffee. I think the last time we’d met was over 10 years ago – it was nice to see her, but we only managed to spend an hour together as I had to head off to my Arabic class! Thankfully it had stopped raining by then, but there was still a lot of traffic everywhere – and there were only five of us in the class.

On Thursday afternoon, a friend came over with her baby for a little while. After she left, I went to Roberto’s for a friend’s birthday drinks. I thought I’d only join them for a bit, and I got there at 7pm, but I ended up getting home at 2am. That always happens to me!

On Friday morning I got an email from my client who had sent me the Chinese paper the week before. They wanted me to continue working on it. Were they mad? I told them that I had no idea what I was doing and that it would take too long. They told me they would increase the rate and the deadline. They also told me they’d send it to the author to check before it was published. For goodness’ sake – what good would that do? The author already thought that the garbage he’d submitted was proper English, how would he even understand what I was writing?

Anyway, I decided I’d focus on that on Saturday and spent most of Friday working on other things.

I was up early on Saturday morning as I had tickets to see Chris Cleave at the Literature Festival. When I left the house, I told myself I wasn’t going to buy any books. None. At. All. I got to the Intercontinental at Festival City shortly after 9am and had bought a book by 9.15am. I think someone should host an intervention for me. I bumped into a friend of mine who was attending the same session at 9.30am and we went in together.

2016-03-12 10.02.22

I had never read anything by Ann Cleves (but want to now) and had only read The Other Hand by Chris Cleave (and bought his latest book, Everyone Brave is Forgiven, that morning). He came across as such a lovely guy – so humble and so surprised that people would want to hear him speak about his books. They both were so interesting to listen to and made some really good points about writing about the horrors of life. Chris Cleave said that we all know what the horrors are, and we don’t always have to write about them so graphically – sometimes just referring to what’s happening ‘offstage’ is enough. He said you have to trust your readers to know what you’re talking about…

After the session, we queued up with our books for him to sign. When I got to the front, he shook my hand and thanked me for buying his books. I told him that my copy of The Other Hand had been bought in Dubai and taken to Bali and Nigeria and was finally back with me. He asked me if I’d been to Nigeria and I told him I lived there as a child. He told me he went there once for a week – he said it was fascinating but that he wouldn’t want to live there! I think a lot of people who live there feel like that too! He was really interesting to talk to – and he signed both my books.

2016-03-12 14.51.08

2016-03-12 14.51.41

He said he was running a couple of workshops that afternoon, but when I went to see if there were any tickets still available they were sold out.

I had an hour until my next session at 11.30am. My friend and I grabbed a cup of tea before separating for our respective sessions. I bumped into some other friends as well, but on the whole I got the feeling that the Festival was much quieter than in previous years.

The next session I attended was called ’14 Centuries of Arab History’. The author was John McHugo – his two books are A Concise History of the Arabs and Syria: A Recent History. The person moderating the session was Riz Khan, who used to work for the BBC and CNN – apparently he lives in Dubai now. I was disappointed by this session – it could have been so much more interesting than it was. I know that one hour isn’t a very long time, but the session was mostly questions from the audience, a bit like ‘Question Time’, so no topic was covered in any real depth.

My friend and I met up again after that and walked over to the Belgian Beer Cafe for lunch. It wasn’t too hot, so we sat outside and both ordered the fish and chips. She had another session after lunch and I came back home.

I have to say I was disappointed with the Literature Festival this year. Last year I struggled to fit in all the authors I wanted to see but this year I struggled to find anyone I really liked. After speaking to a few other people, I think that was the general consensus.

That afternoon, I had to fight to stay awake while editing the awful Chinese paper, and then I headed to the beach for my evening walk – it was really busy! I was home a little after 7pm and had dinner with my parents.

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

Leave a comment »

Dubai 2016: Week 9

Apart from work (and lots of it) and the gym (some form of exercise every day), I wasn’t all that busy. I decided to go to Spa Zen for a massage on Sunday evening. What better way than that to start the week?

On Monday I was busy as usual. I had a session with Pete on Monday and a piano lesson that afternoon. My Intermediate II Arabic class started that evening as well. It had only been ten days since the last class and I’d already forgotten all the new vocabulary I’d learned!

I was home all day on Tuesday, working.

I had another session with Pete on Wednesday morning. That afternoon I met a friend for coffee at Caffe Nero in DIFC. I’d really forgotten what it’s like to go out in the week – I seem to have become a bit of a recluse recently. On my way out I bumped into another friend of mine. I should really get out more! I had another Arabic class that evening.

I went to a yoga class on Thursday morning and was at home working the rest of the day. In fact, I was at home working the entire weekend. My parents were out most of the time so I had the place to myself.

On Friday morning one of my clients emailed to ask if I could fast-track an article for them – it was about Chinese local government and debt. I said I could return it to them by Saturday – they were thrilled. However, when I saw the document, I was horrified. It was 12,000 words of complete nonsense which had clearly been written using Google Translate. Here’s an example:

This paper try to resolve the unbalance relationship between the “power, responsibility and interests” of the local debt in China, which is on the view of the power endowment, the responsibility restriction and the interests transformation.

And that’s not even the worst of it. It needed to be completely rewritten – and I wasn’t even sure what the author was trying to say, so rewriting it was difficult. On Saturday afternoon, I gave up. I emailed my client to say that it was impossible to edit, and that it should be returned to the author to be translated by an English-speaking professional. Thankfully my client agreed with me! Seriously, though – what a complete waste of time that was.

I went to the beach on Saturday evening for a walk, but I went late and did most of my walk in the dark which wasn’t much fun. The track is mostly well lit but I felt a bit uncomfortable and exposed (even though there were several other people around). I’m definitely sticking to daytime/sunset walks from now on!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

1 Comment »

Dubai 2016: Week 8

Apart from work and the gym, I had a pretty busy week. I was also feeling quite lazy – I didn’t have Arabic as I’d finished the Intermediate 1 course the week before and Intermediate 2 was starting the following week – and I just wanted to sit at home.

On Sunday afternoon I went to Dermalogica at the Dubai Mall for a facial. I usually book with Judy – and she’s excellent. Days later, my skin still felt and looked incredible.

I had a session with Pete on Monday and a piano lesson that afternoon. I spent the rest of the day working – my parents were out for dinner so it was quiet at home.

I went to the gym on Tuesday and also squeezed in a yoga class that afternoon – and apart from that I worked! And apart from my session with Pete on Wednesday, I continued working…

On Thursday I decided to treat myself to a much-needed manicure and pedicure. I took my book with me and spent some time at the salon. I realised that we were already at the end of February and it was time to start planning something for my birthday! Again! It seems to come around so quickly…

On Thursday evening I went to the Dubai Jazz Festival at the Media City Amphitheatre – David Gray, Chris Botti and his band, and Sting were all performing that night. David Gray was good, but apart from the three or four songs I knew (‘Babylon’, ‘Sail Away’, ‘This Year’s Love’) the rest all started to sound the same.

I’d never heard of Chris Botti – but I now realise that I’d seen him perform before with Sting on his Brand New Day tour. He also played on the album (it’s one of my favourites). Chris Botti and his band were quality musicians – versatile and talented. In a way, I feel they were wasted on a Dubai audience who wouldn’t appreciate their skills. Even though I didn’t know any of their music, I still enjoyed listening to them play for an hour or so.

And then Sting came on – man, he looks good. He started with ‘If I Ever Lose My Faith In You’ – I think that’s one of my favourite songs. But each time he started a song I’d think ‘Oh, I love this song.’ He then played ‘Englishman in New York’ and ‘Message in a Bottle’. He also sang ‘Fields of Gold’, ‘Every Little Thing She Does is Magic’ and ‘Roxanne’, and of course ‘Desert Rose’.

He also sang ‘Shape of  My Heart’ and a few other songs I can’t remember right now. It was fantastic.

The first time I saw Sting in concert was in the summer of 2001 in Hyde Park. It was a Sunday evening in July and the weather was perfect. I somehow I managed to get tickets for seats six rows from the front and had no idea until we got there – so we had a great view too. When he started singing ‘Fields of Gold’, I looked to the sky on my right – the sun was setting and the sky was a mixture of reds and oranges and pinks and purples. It was almost as if he’d ordered this sunset to go with his song.

When we’ve been to concerts in Media City, we usually go for drinks afterwards to avoid the crowds and the taxi rush, but that night I wanted to get home as I had work to do and I wasn’t drinking. My friend also wanted to get home and we luckily managed to get into a cab as people were getting out at one of the hotels. I dropped her home and was home by 1am. I ended up working until almost 4am.

I worked on Friday afternoon and that evening went to the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. I went with my cousin – we’d missed the first game (Wawrinka v Kyrgios) but got there in time to watch Lopez v Baghdatis. It wasn’t as crowded as I thought it would be – I managed to get our tickets using my Emirates airmiles so I don’t think they were sold out. It was a good match – although Lopez really lost it in the third set.

After the tennis, my cousin and I went to Thai Chi at Wafi for dinner. We ordered a tom yum soup with chicken to share and the papaya salad to start with. The soup was really filling – three or four people could have shared it – so when it was time to order our main course we decided to skip the green curry and just have the grilled tiger prawns topped with hot basil sauce and Thai peppercorns. It was amazing. I’d never had it before but I would definitely order it again. It was really spicy though! I was home by midnight and again ended up working late, this time until 3am.

I was home on Saturday. I was tired as I hadn’t slept much. That evening a friend and I went to the beach for our Saturday evening walk. Neither of us had been the week before, but I could really feel the change in the temperature – it was already much warmer. We managed our 6 km in under an hour and went home in time for dinner.

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

Leave a comment »

Dubai 2016: Week 7

After a very dull week the week before, it was business as usual this week.

Sunday was Valentine’s Day and after the gym that morning, I spent some of the afternoon working. I decided to treat myself to a 90-minute massage at Spa Zen in the late afternoon. It was just what I needed. That evening my dad took my mum and I out for dinner. I chose Taste of Italy by Heinz Beck at Galleria Mall – a friend of mine had been there recently and said the truffle pasta was to die for. Sold!

Everything on the menu looked good – and I came very close to having the red snapper but in the end the truffle pasta won. For starters I ordered the marinated salmon with sour cream, Dad had the seafood salad and Mum had the seabass carpaccio. Everything was excellent. For my main course I had the truffle pasta.

2016-02-14 21.19.35

Dad had the baked seabass and Mum wanted a side order of mashed potatoes (tut, honestly). I’m sure my pasta was about 1000 calories but I loved every bit of it. We shared a passion fruit crème brûlée for dessert.

2016-02-14 22.00.46

I would definitely go back there again.

My Monday was busy. I had a session with Pete in the morning, worked all afternoon and an Arabic class in the evening.

Apart from the gym on Tuesday I was at home, working in my pajamas.

I had another session with Pete on Wednesday. Before my Arabic class I had some errands to run at Mercato and when I left the mall at 5.30 it was pouring. In just the 15 seconds it took for me to get into the car, I got drenched. Luckily the rain had almost stopped by the time I got to the Trade Centre Tower, but there was a huge puddle at the bottom of the staircase and I ended up going halfway round the building via the carpark to get into the building. And by the time my class was over it had stopped altogether.

It was my last Arabic class of Intermediate 1 so we had an assessment. We were allowed to look up words in our books (thank God) and I managed to do the whole assessment written in Arabic. I was also the first to finish by almost 20 minutes so the teacher went through the paper with me once I’d finished. I was quite pleased with what I’d done, but my brain was totally fried after that!

I got home at 9pm and had a late dinner with my parents and some of their friends who had come over.

I went to yoga on Thursday morning and then met a friend for lunch at The Sum of Us. I had a green juice and the smoked salmon omelette with goats cheese. My friend had the veal schnitzel, and he said it was pretty good. We shared a slice of carrot cake for dessert and had some coffee.

After lunch I went to the Hummingbird Bakery at Citywalk to collect some mini cupcakes I’d ordered. It was about 2.30pm but Citywalk was packed – I didn’t think it would be so busy in the middle of a weekday afternoon. Once I got home, I got into my pajamas and worked for the rest of the day.

I’d been invited to a friend’s place for tea on Friday afternoon (hence the mini cupcakes) – it was just a small close crowd: me, her, her parents, a friend who was visiting with her 10-week-old baby and her mum, and a couple of other friends with their 1-year-old daughter. I was the first to arrive so my friend, her mum and I sat outside by the pool for a little while until the others arrived. It was a bit chilly for the baby outdoors so we moved inside. It was a lovely afternoon and I didn’t leave there until 7.30pm. My plan was to go home and change for a party at some friends’ place but in the end I just quickly stopped at home to freshen up and pick up a bottle of vodka and some chocolates.

It was such a fun evening – it was same group I’d been to China Grill with a few weeks ago so I knew it would be pretty boozy and at some point there would be loads of 80s music! I drank a lot of vodka – and I was making my own drinks which is never a good thing as I’m sure they get stronger and stronger as the night goes on. I got home at around 3am (I think).

I felt like hell on Saturday and had a really bad squink. A ‘squink’ is a word I coined to describe the feeling of being hungover with a stabbing pain in either or both eyes. Each time I blink it feels as if the Devil himself is stabbing my eyeball with his pitchfork, causing my eye to water uncontrollably and usually remain swollen for the rest of the day. And it’s usually my left eye (although I once had a double squink – which was pure torture). It’s not pretty. And it only started happening after I’d had my laser eye surgery in 2003. My siblings used to laugh at me in those days – and then it started happening to them too. That, my friends, is called Karma!

I was supposed to meet some friends at Purobeach at 11.30 but at 11.20 I was still in bed. I’d warned them the day before that there was a good chance I’d be hungover so they weren’t too surprised when I said I was going to be late. So, looking and feeling a bit like Shrek, I got ready and went over to the Conrad – I was there by 12.15 and kept my eyes fully covered with my sunglasses! It was still watering a little but not too badly. The four of us chatted for a while and then noticed a woman with long red hair (dyed) spilling out of her tiny bikini top. And then she stood up and bent over and we realised she was wearing a G-string. Oh. My. God. I would say she was perhaps a bit bigger than me – but she must have some serious body confidence to prance around wearing almost nothing! We were mesmerized – it was a bit like a car crash – we just couldn’t look away.

We had lunch at the Purobeach restaurant. We’ve all been trying to eat healthily this year and the three of them ordered salads. My hangover demanded that I have the hot dog and fries and a Coke. It was exactly what I needed. We went back to our sunbeds for a little while longer and then left at around 4pm.

I spent the rest of the day catching up with emails and some TV shows. I couldn’t focus on much else!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

3 Comments »