Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2015: Week 12

I had a busy week with work and most of my plans to attend Art Dubai went out the window.

I had a session with Trevor on Sunday and then decided I was going to finally open my new laptop! Later that day I went to Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal for a massage. I wanted to use my Entertainer voucher before it expired at the end of March – they give a gift voucher which you can use for the second massage. The week before I’d been to the Oberoi and they told me I’d have to take the second massage before the end of March as that’s when the Entertainer voucher expired. I was prepared for the same thing to happen at the Oberoi, but instead they gave me a voucher valid for six months! Awesome – so I didn’t have to rush to use it (although I was fully prepared to squeeze in another massage before the end of the month).

I worked all day on Monday. I’d wanted to go to Art Night at DIFC but had too much work to do. I still had work to do on Tuesday but some friends of ours were in town so my dad and I took them out for lunch. We went to Don Alfonso – I’d been raving about it so much that Dad wanted to try it. We got there a little after 1.30 without a reservation and were shown to a table. I have to say it’s much more crowded at lunch than it was the last Thursday evening. They had a set menu for lunch.

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I thought that AED125 for two courses and dessert was very good value for money! I started with the seared tuna and capers (I love capers) – our friends ordered the buffalo mozzarella and tomato starter – the amount of mozzarella was huge – it was about the size of a tennis ball! For my main course I had the beef tagliata.

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It was excellent. I was full after that but as dessert was included we ordered a few things to share, including the almond lueco fagon – the waiter told me it was similar to cheesecake (it wasn’t, but it was still good).

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After lunch, I went to Holland & Barrett at Citywalk. I wanted to pick up some vitamins and the other things Dr Leila had mentioned in her talk the week before. I bought three things: a Holland & Barrett multivitamin for women, Omega 3 capsules and a probiotic. The total for those three things was AED360 – so expensive! I think I’ll have to stock up the next time I’m in London… After leaving there, I went to Boots next door and that’s when I discovered that instead of giving me AED140 in change, the shop assistant at Holland & Barrett had only given me AED90. So I went back, fully prepared for an argument. I told her what had happened and she just handed over the other AED50. Had she done it intentionally? I never check my change – perhaps I need to start!

It was almost 5pm by the time I got home and I finally settled down to do some work.

After my session with Trevor on Wednesday morning, I worked all day. And I mean all day. I cancelled my piano lesson that afternoon and knew I wasn’t going to make it to the opening night of Art Dubai which I’d been looking forward to. After last year, I somehow managed to make it on to the Collector’s Circle VIP list and wanted to make the most of all the talks they were holding! But work comes first.

I finally made it on Thursday. Some friends and I had decided we’d meet for a late dinner so we could have a look around Art Dubai beforehand. With various work commitments and traffic, it was almost 9pm by the time we got to Madinat Jumeirah and I noticed that they were closing at 9.30pm! I didn’t think we’d have enough time but in retrospect I think that’s the best time to go! By 9pm on Thursday, everyone was already at the bar and the halls weren’t crowded at all – we actually managed to walk around the exhibition in about 45 minutes. There were some stunning pieces of work – and there were some which made me wonder why they were there. I loved this person in prayer but I wish I’d taken it from different angles so that the letters were clearer.

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After walking around, my friend and I picked up a third friend from the Abraaj Lounge and walked over to MJ’s Steakhouse at Al Qasr where we were meeting our fourth for the evening.

We decided to skip the starters and go straight for the main course. I had the 200 g Wagyu steak and a side of macaroni and cheese (for the table – ahem). The food was delicious. We also had a couple of bottles of Shiraz – and it was a really lovely chilled evening.

It was only about 12.30 when we left Al Qasr and three of us decided to go to the Four Seasons for a drink. I hadn’t been there yet and had been wanting to see it. The hotel is stunning. We went up to Mercury Lounge, their rooftop bar. We were met with Randy Crawford’s ‘Street Life’ playing extremely loudly and one couple dancing furiously by themselves, between the bar and the lounge area. I thought they might be the ‘entertainment’ as they seemed to be very keen on the song!

After the chilled evening we’d had, none of us were in the mood for loud 80s music so we decided to try the bar in the lobby, Hendricks Bar. It was quiet and comfortable – just what we were looking for. We went through the wine list, thinking we’d share a bottle of rose but all they had was Whispering Angel (which the three of us had had before at La Serre) – either by the glass or a magnum. We certainly weren’t going to finish a magnum at that time of night between the three of us, so we ordered three glasses (at AED95 each – rip-off!). The waiter brought the magnum over with three glasses and poured it for me to try. It was nowhere near chilled and I told him so. ‘But it’s been in the fridge, madam,’ was his response. He was such a condescending shit I almost asked him whether the fridge was actually switched on. There was no doubt the glasses had been chilled, but the wine certainly wasn’t. At AED95 per glass, I expect chilled wine. We decided we’d all have a Belvedere and soda (my first vodka since 2nd January) and I asked for some fresh lime juice on the side. The lime juice never turned up and I just could not be bothered to ask for it again. We had one drink and left – it was after 2.30 by this time!

I met up with a friend for lunch on Friday. He had a friend staying with him so the three of us (and his puppy) went to Maison Bagatelle on the Boulevard for lunch. Even though it was cloudy, it was a surprisingly hot day but because we had the puppy with us we had to sit outside. I got there first and ordered a refreshing cucumber, apple, mint and ginger juice while I waited for the others to arrive. I ended up having the nicoise salad, my friend had the full English breakfast and his friend had the tapenade and a salad. We also ordered a truffle mac and cheese to share.

After lunch, we walked back to his place. The Classic Car Festival was on so we saw a few rare cars and then decided to walk through Burj Park. We opened a bottle of wine at his place, watching the activity on the Boulevard.

Mini Coopers on display

Mini Coopers on display

I went home after that. My mum arrived that evening so my parents and I stayed in for dinner and ordered some Chinese food.

I was home all day on Saturday. That evening, my mum’s cousins were having a housewarming at their new house in Emirates Hills. Mum was too tired to go so Dad and I went together. The dinner was outside in the garden – and it was such a lovely evening. I met some people I hadn’t seen in a while, had some dinner (catered by Royal Orchid) and was home by midnight. Perfect for a Saturday.

And that was my week!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 11

Another unexpectedly busy week in Dubai…

I had my usual session with Randy on Sunday morning and then did some work the rest of the day. That night I went to Sho Cho for dinner with my cousin and some of our Lagos friends. Being a Sunday night I thought it would be quiet, but I was completely wrong! Every table was full and by the time we left even the bar area was packed. I had no idea Sunday was ‘retro night’. I’ll definitely be doing that again! I had two ginger martinis (or was it three?) and the food was really good too.

On Monday evening I went to the Shangri-La to sort out my birthday party. I’ve been so unexcited about it, if I’m honest. If I didn’t have friends flying in from other places I would actually cancel the whole thing. After that I went to Art Night at DIFC – I wasn’t with anyone, but I just wanted to get out of the house. It was crowded, more crowded than the one in February (I thought) and I didn’t stay too long. I walked around a couple of galleries, bumped into a couple of friends, and was home for dinner. I did see this lovely tree made of books:

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I had coffee with my cousin in DIFC on Tuesday and while we were walking around I saw this beautiful photograph.

Isn't this beautiful?

Isn’t this beautiful?

I had a piano lesson that afternoon which was great. I’m still working on all the same things as the week before, and finally started working on: Amelie’s Waltz.

There was another InterNations event on Wednesday evening so a friend and I went together. It was at Seville’s in Wafi, in their outdoor area. We’d been looking forward to it as we’d had such a great time two weeks before, but this was disappointing. Neither of us was feeling particularly social to start with, and we would have been happy to just talk to each other as we hadn’t seen each other in two weeks. The staff at the restaurant were absolutely clueless about everything. It took us almost 30 minutes to order a bottle of wine, and that was after a lot of going back and forth because they didn’t have certain wines on the list. It was just irritating. When we’d finished our wine we decided we’d leave and go elsewhere to catch up.

We walked over to Carter’s and ordered our drinks at the bar. We were then approached by an Indian guy who insisted on buying us champagne which we politely declined. I could sense him looking at me so I continued staring in the opposite direction while my friend told him we weren’t interested. We got our drinks and found a table outside. Twenty minutes later the guy showed up outside and said he wanted to buy us a drink. We told him we still weren’t interested. ‘Are you Indian?’ he asked me. ‘No, I’m Spanish,’ I replied. ‘But I mean, where are you from originally?’ ‘Spain,’ I replied. He didn’t believe me so I started speaking Spanish.

And then my friend said: ‘That’s a lovely wedding ring you’re wearing.’

I hadn’t even noticed. His persistence suddenly turned into sheepishness. He mumbled something about it being a ‘separation’ ring and he left us alone. Jesus, what a tool.

I woke up with a slight headache on Thursday. I was home all day but had wine club that evening. It was supposed to be held at the the new JW Marriot Marquis at their poolside but because the weather had been terrible all day (grey and windy) they moved it indoors. It was  a good venue but there really wasn’t enough food (in my opinion). The wines we had were:

  • Villa Maria Private Bin 2011 Sauvignon Blanc: Strong citrus grassy notes on nose and palate. Race acidity that pairs well with vegetables, seafood and lighter dishes. Excellent with asparagus. Typical New Zealand style from the South Island. This was my second favourite.
  • Villa Maria Private Bin 2011 Chardonnay: Mineral, citrus, and very clean aroma. In the mouth, good acidity, grapefruit, and clean long finish with a hint of spice. I hated this.
  • Cusumano Chardonnay: Grown and produced in Sicily, taking advantage of the island’s rich history in wine-making and full sunny days for optimal ripeness and full-flavoured wines. I hated this too.
  • Villa Maria Private Bin Dry Riesling: A pure and delicate bouquet of ripe citrus-lime and spring blossom aromas. The palate is beautifully balanced with intense flavours, lovely juicy length and a zest lime finish. Great on its own or with light fresh food.
  • Villa Maria Gewurztraminer: Gewurztraminer is an aromatic wine grape variety. The name literally means ‘Spice Traminer’. The grape has a pink to red skin colour, and is high in natural sugar. The resulting wine is white and usually off-dry, with a flamboyant bouquet of lychees. Its aromatic flavours make Gewurztraminer an ideal companion for mild curries and chillies, Thai and Japanese cuisine, pork and ham, and spiced apple desserts. This was my favourite.
  • Cusamano Cabernet Sauvignon: Loaded with rich berry fruit and substantial tannins. Best to let set out for a while before drinking to soften when young. Excellent with hearty dishes and red meats.

I was sitting with a friend on one table but had a few friends on another table so we all met up afterwards and went to Vault, the wine bar on the 70th floor. We had more wine (South African Chenin Blanc) and were there until they closed at 3am.

I felt like shit the next day. I eventually got out of bed at 1pm, took some Nurofen and had some lunch. My entire day was going to waste until I asked a friend if she wanted to go to Art Dubai. She said yes, and that she’d drive as she had to drop her daughter off at JBR. Great! I was ready by 5pm, she picked me up, we went to pick up her daughter but she wasn’t ready so we hung out in the kitchen for a while. Then her daughter said she wasn’t meeting her friends until later, so we waited a bit more. We left her place at 6pm, encountered terrible traffic to and from JBR (which is an everyday occurrence, apparently) and spent half an hour stuck in the parking lot at the Madinat. It did not bode well. We eventually parked 10 minutes away, walked back to the Madinat and got there at 7.30pm. We asked for two tickets and the man said they had just closed. WTF?? It was 7.30pm on Friday. I thought it would have been open until at least 9.30, but neither of us had even thought to check. I was gutted. I missed it last year, and I missed it this year (I wasn’t able to go on the Saturday). Third time lucky?

We decided we’d get some food at the Madinat as we were both famished and hungover. We went to Japengo – I really fancied some Iranian kebabs and some houmous but when we sat down the waitress told us that they didn’t have any Lebanese or Iranian food. I could have wept. We ordered some spicy tuna rolls and some French fries (which appeased me a little). I was home by 10pm.

Saturday was a long day. I was up at 6am as I was volunteering at the Jack Canfield 1-day workshop (Living the Success Principles) at the Meydan Hotel. I had wanted to go but I felt 2000 dirhams was a lot of money to spend, especially as I haven’t had any income since November (long story). Luckily for me, my parents know the organisers who told me that if I came as a volunteer I could help out before and after the event, and in the breaks, and attend for free. Amazing! I left home at 7am, helped with registration (handing out name badges), put flyers on the tables in the breaks, put inserts into leaflets for about 10 minutes during the afternoon session, and sold some books at the end. It was totally worth it. And I felt the workshop was just what I needed to set some goals – personal and professional – for the year ahead.

2013.03.23 Jack Canfield

It also gave me an insight into what it would be like working in event management. I’ve realised I would loathe it. I like to get on with things in peace and quiet rather than be bothered by people asking me questions all day!

Anyway, I was home by 7.30pm and in bed by 9pm.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 8

What a crazy busy week!

I had a couple of doctor appointments on Sunday afternoon but apart from that it was quiet.

On Monday evening I went to see the Dubai Chamber Orchestra at The Fridge in Alserkal Avenue.

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I didn’t even know Dubai had a chamber orchestra.

Dubai Chamber Orchestra programme - 25 February 2013

Dubai Chamber Orchestra programme – 25 February 2013

I didn’t know any of the music, but the last piece sounded very familiar. I then realised it used to be the music for the advert of a mobile phone company but can’t remember which one. Any ideas?

On Tuesday evening my cousin and I went to see the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships at the Aviation Club Tennis Centre. We went last year too. We watched the whole Djokovic v. Troicki game.

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We also saw the first half of the Tsonga v. Llodra match but left as it was after 9pm and we were getting hungry. We had reservations at Shogun, a Korean/Japanese/Thai restaurant, at the Al Ghurair Centre in Deira. We managed to find the restaurant and were taken to a small room with two tables in it – each table had the built-in barbecue to cook our food. We ordered the pah-jeon, barbecued chicken and beef. We didn’t have to order the kim chee as it was complimentary.

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The portions are huge and we could have done without one of the dishes!

On Wednesday night I went to Art Night at DIFC. I was meeting a friend at 8.45 but decided to go a bit earlier to get out of the house. I walked around for a bit and bumped into a friend of mine who was kind enough to ditch his colleagues to walk around with me for a while. My friend showed up as soon as he left and we went to the rest of the galleries. There were some interesting pieces of work but nothing that I’d want to see every day in my home.

After we were done, we went to Roberto’s for a drink with a couple of her friends. It was too crowded in there and there was nowhere to stand so we had one drink and went to Capital Club. The four of us sat in the sheesha terrace – we were the only people there and it was quiet so we could actually have a conversation.

I had my usual piano lesson on Thursday afternoon. I think we actually had a breakthrough because at 1.20pm I got a text from my teacher saying he was running 20 minutes late. I told him it was fine – and that I’d see him at 2.20. I don’t mind him running late as long as I have enough notice! I had a good lesson – still working on ‘Solfegietto’ and the ‘The Heart Asks Pleasure First’. I feel like I’m actually getting somewhere. I’ve been trying to practice at home, but the only time I can really do that is when my parents are out. When they’re home, either the TV is on or they’re sleeping, so it’s not ideal.

That night I met up with a couple of friends – we decided to go to Zuma for some drinks. We had three bottles of wine between the three of us and it was just too much. My parents were still out when I got home (thank goodness) and I went to bed.

I felt like rubbish on Friday but had a work deadline for that afternoon. I spent 4 hours copyediting a paper and had to incorporate equations and all sorts of formulae into it. It was a nightmare.

That night, me and my two friends from the night before went to the 80s Rewind concert at Festival City (where the Jazz Garden had been the week before). We’d been hearing about it for weeks: the line-up included Carol Decker from T’Pau, Heaven 17, ABC, Howard Jones and Rick Astley.

That’s right. Rick Astley.

Carol Decker went on first – she sang only two songs that I could remember (‘China in Your Hand’ and ‘Heart and Soul’). Heaven 17 were on next and I could only remember two of their songs (‘Come Live with Me’ and ‘Temptation’). I actually knew more ABC songs than I thought I did (‘The Look of Love’, ‘When Smokey Sings’, and a couple of others). When Howard Jones came on, I really couldn’t remember anything he sang until he started singing! He played ‘New Song’, ‘What is Love?’, ‘Like to Get to Know You Well’ and some others I sort of recognised. Each band did about 20 minutes on stage.

And then Rick Astley came on. He sounds the same, and he looks almost the same – he has hardly aged! He was on stage for about 40 minutes and interacted with the audience a lot, especially a couple of people at the front. He sang all his hits. Did you know that he holds the record for being the only male solo artist to have his first eight singles reach the Top 10 in the UK?

He sang his usual hits (‘Whenever You Need Somebody’, ‘Together Forever’, ‘It Would Take a Strong Strong Man’, ‘She Wants to Dance With Me’, ‘Cry For Help’ and a few others). He finished with ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’.

Brilliant!

After that we ran to the taxi stand and luckily had to wait just 20 minutes in the queue.

On Saturday my parents and I had lunch at Long Yin at the Meridien. When I checked in on Foursquare I was told I’d get a 20% discount off my total bill. Nice! The food was good – we ordered dim sum, which came in little baskets big enough for just two dumplings. We also had some soup, and for our main course we had lamb with rice.

After lunch we went to see Parker at the Dubai Mall. I personally thought it was better than the Die Hard movie we’d seen the week before, although Jennifer Lopez is looking a little ‘tired’.

We went home after the movie and I got into my pajamas. What a week!

I love my life.

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