Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2015: Weeks 52/53

I got back from Bali on the 23rd morning. Similar to when I left, the passengers had to get on a bus after leaving the plane and were then taken to the terminal. I stood at the top of the stairway at 5am and was hit by a blast of cold air. I got on the bus, found a seat and sat down because I was feeling tired and lazy. Just as well, because the bus ride to the airport took forever. It felt like we were going around the airport in circles. I felt like one of the hostages in the movie Speed. We finally got to the terminal, I went through the e-Gate, collected my luggage, bought five bottles of champagne at Duty Free and went home. I was so happy to be home, and back in my own bed. I’d missed my pillows! I passed out for a few hours until lunch.

That evening, a friend had invited a few people over for mulled wine and mince pies. We got to her place in The Springs at about 7pm. It was nice to see everyone after my trip, and we sat out in the garden, sipping wine and chatting. I left at around 9.30pm – I was exhausted and a bit jet-lagged.

On Thursday, I went to the Dubai Mall – I needed a Secret Santa present for Christmas lunch the next day. Once I’d picked that up I went back home. I had a load of work to do and was starting to panic about how I was going to get it all done before the deadlines. I stayed in that night.

I spent Christmas Day with some friends at their flat in Business Bay. I got there at around 2pm and we had lunch at 4pm. It was also my fourth anniversary of being in Dubai – I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone!

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There was so much food! Prawn cocktail to start with, and then turkey, pork shoulder, roast potatoes, stuffing, brussel sprouts, pigs in blankets, and I’m sure there was more that I can’t remember. There was Christmas pudding and cheese for dessert. Not to mention the prosecco, champagne and wine that we all enjoyed. The weather was lovely too – and we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening sitting on their balcony, watching the full moon move across the sky (and watching random YouTube music videos).

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I got home at around 11pm. It was a long day, but it was really fun.

I went to the Dubai Mall on Saturday as I was meeting some friends at Vogue Cafe in the Shoe District for tea.

On Sunday, I decided to try out a new yoga studio at Village Mall. It was really nice and I ended up buying a package for 15 classes.

I had my usual piano lesson on Monday, but that was all I did that day. All I’d been doing otherwise was working. I’d hoped that as my UK clients were closed for the holidays, there’d be no more work coming in over the holidays and I could catch up properly, but I didn’t realise that their Indian offices would still be open and send me things to work on! It was good though – I kept my head down and got on with it.

I’d been invited out for lunch on Tuesday. I wasn’t keen on going but I had some friends visiting Dubai who would be at lunch so I went anyway. Lunch was at Apres in Mall of the Emirates. I got there at 1pm (which was the time on the invitation) and there was nobody there, not even the two hosts. There was also no table set up for 10-12 people so I asked the waitress at the door whether they had a booking under either of the hosts’ names. ‘For today, ma’am?’ Well, yes, I’m here, aren’t I? She looked in her diary. ‘Oh yes, 1pm for 12 people.’ So, where is the table? ‘Oh, we didn’t know if they wanted smoking or non-smoking.’ You have the number there so why didn’t you call to confirm? ‘Yes, ma’am.’ The woman was irritating. But what irritated me more was that the hosts should have been dealing with the lack of a table and not me. I got the table sorted and sat down. I asked the waiter for a bottle of water (which never arrived). At about 1.15pm one of the hosts arrived – she’d had errands to run in the mall which was why she was late. Good grief – couldn’t she have done that later? Anyway, people started arriving – we were nine girls in the end – and lunch seemed to go on forever. The service was awful. I would never go back there. At 4pm I made my excuses and left – the others seemed quite happy to sit there for longer but I had s*** to do!

I had a session with Pete on Wednesday and spent the rest of the day working.

On Thursday morning I went back to Eco Yoga Sanctuary for a Hatha Flow class. After that I decided to get my  hair done as I looked like a homeless person after the yoga class. It was also New Year’s Eve and I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do that night. My number one choice was to stay home. I’d been invited to a few places but I couldn’t face the thought of the traffic going Downtown and then getting stuck there until 4am. I could see it building up from the afternoon onwards.

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I ended up staying home. And I’m glad I did because soon after I’d had dinner, I saw a post on Facebook that said the Address Downtown was on fire. What?? I’d been hearing sirens for the last 10 minutes but assumed it was regular New Year’s Eve police controlling the traffic. I thought it was a hoax and then I checked Twitter. I couldn’t believe the pictures I was seeing.

Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

I felt sick – there were hundreds of thousands of people in that small area – and I couldn’t imagine how many people would be injured. I kept reading that there were no injuries but I just couldn’t believe that. Eventually, it was reported that there were 14 minor injuries – a bit more realistic, but still unbelievable in a way. I hoped everyone had managed to get out of that building in time. And then I heard that they were planning to go ahead with the fireworks Downtown. Next to a burning building? It seemed ludicrous. And people were still heading Downtown. Friends called from London and other places to see if I was OK – WhatsApp had stopped working!

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At about 10 minutes before midnight I made my way to the pool area of my building to watch the fireworks. The crazy thing I’ve noticed about people on New Year’s Eve is that wherever they are on Sheikh Zayed Road, they’ll abandon their cars and run to where they can see the Burj Khalifa and watch the fireworks. It’s like watching a disaster movie, although instead of running from disaster, they’re running towards the fireworks!

23:55 on New Year's Eve

23:55 on New Year’s Eve

And then it was midnight. The Address Downtown was still on fire (but under control, they said) and the Burj Khalifa lit up.

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It was bizarre. The fireworks went on for about 5 minutes – I brought in the New Year watching the smoke from the fireworks drift off into the night like dancing skeletons, with the smoke from the Address Downtown streaming behind it.

I’m so glad I stayed in.

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

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Dubai 2015: Week 48

I was a bit of a recluse this week. I had one of my most relaxing weeks ever. I was home all day on Sunday.

I had a session with Pete on Monday morning and a piano lesson that afternoon. After my piano lesson, I had a facial at Dermalogica at the Dubai Mall. I’d run out of Entertainer vouchers but they offer 25% off on Mondays – so I always try and book on a Monday! I went home after that and carried on with some work.

My parents left for Tenerife early on Tuesday morning, at about 4am – and I didn’t leave the house until Friday afternoon, apart from to go to the gym. Tuesday and Wednesday were wet and grey, and I felt quite cosy at home.

Seriously though – I would wake up, go to the gym, come home, shower and get back into fresh pajamas. It was amazing. I’d either work or read in bed. The flat was so quiet. I even stayed in on Thursday night!

The weather has definitely cooled down a lot, which means there are clouds almost every day, which means there are amazing sunsets almost every evening.

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On Friday, some friends and I went over to another friend’s place on the Palm. We got there at around 4.30 pm and the four of us sat outside, sipping chilled champagne. There was a beautiful sunset.

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Another couple joined us later on and we ordered some Lebanese food for dinner and then toasted marshmallows on the open fire. It was actually a bit chilly once the sun had gone down. Just before midnight, I thought it was time to go home – my two other friends had left earlier as they had work the next day, and the other couple were leaving too. I booked an Uber, which was 20 minutes away. About 10 minutes later, I checked my Uber app to see where the car was, only to find that the driver had cancelled the journey and that there was now a price surge of 2.8x. The cheek! I didn’t rebook – we decided to have another drink instead. A few minutes later, the Uber driver called me to say he was outside. He asked me if I’d cancelled the journey – I said I hadn’t, and that he had. Anyway, I told him I’d managed to get a lift and didn’t need the car. So my friend and I had another drink and then we thought it would be a good idea to do some karaoke! It was 2.30am by the time I left his place – we were having such a laugh, singing along to old 80s songs.

On Saturday I went to the New Orleans Jazz Brunch at Imperium at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. I’d been to their regular Friday brunch in February 2013, and had been wanting to go back. We had a lovely table outside – and we ordered some drinks to start with. The food was more or less the same as the Friday brunch – although the last time we were there they had fresh lobster and fresh salmon on the outside grill, this time they had fresh prawns. The spread inside consisted of everything: a seafood table, salads, beef Wellington, roast lamb, oysters, mussels, a pork section, scrambled eggs with truffles, cheeses and a huge variety of dessert. The food was fresh and tasty – although the beef Wellington was chewy and a bit disappointing. I skipped dessert and had a variety of cheese instead. I have to say that even though the choice of food is fantastic and the ambiance is lovely, the service is a real letdown. And I remembered that from last time too. But that seems to be a problem in most places in Dubai – first-world prices and third-world service. We had two Entertainer vouchers for brunch, so we each ended up paying AED260. Not bad for all you can eat and drink!

I think the hotel itself is stunning and every time I’ve been there I’m so tempted to check in for a week!

The chandelier in the lobby of the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

The chandelier in the lobby of the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

It was 6pm by the time I got home as we hit traffic on the way back. I got into my pajamas and chilled for the rest of the evening. Perfect.

I love my life.

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The final few

I was exhausted on Sunday morning and didn’t go to the gym.

I had a session with Pete on Monday morning. I started with an uphill walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes, starting with an incline of 1% and increasing it each minute. I then did some thorough stretching and was ready to begin. I started with:

  • Combined deadlift/shoulder press x 6 (10-lb weights)
  • Repeat each minute for 6 minutes

It wasn’t difficult and I didn’t need the rest of the minute to rest before starting the next set. The next Tabata circuit was tougher:

  • Butt-kickers (with my hands against the wall) x 20 s
  • Rest x 10 s
  • Jumping jacks x 20 s
  • Rest x 10 s
  • Butt-kickers x 20 s
  • Rest x 10 s
  • Jumping jacks x 20 s
  • Rest x 10 s
  • High knee wall run x 20 s
  • Rest x 10 s
  • Side to side jumping x 20 s
  • Rest x 10 s
  • High knee wall run x 20 s
  • Rest x 10 s
  • Side to side jumping x 20 s
  • Rest

Next came an abs circuit:

  • Knee-ins x 30 s
  • Rest x 30 s
  • T raise (lifting opposite arm and leg) x 30 s
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Plank x 30 s
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Situps with jabs x 30 s
  • Rest

And then came a horrible circuit:

  • Bulgarian squats x 6 on each side
  • Combined squat/kickback x 12 (alternating)
  • Abductor machine x 20
  • Repeat

I did another abs circuit:

  • Rolling plank x 30 s
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Reverse crunches x 30 s
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Russian twists x 30 s
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Situps with a twist x 30 s
  • Rest

For the situps with a twist, I did a regular situp and then twisted to the left and to the right before going back down. Another abs circuit followed:

  • Crunches x 10 (hands raised by my hips
  • Crunches x 10 (hands above my knees)
  • Crunches x 10 (hands overhead)
  • Reverse crunches x 10

There was some stretching after that and I was done for the day.

I had yoga on Tuesday morning – and nothing new to report there.

I was supposed to have a session with Pete on Wednesday morning at 11am but unfortunately I had to cancel it as our car battery had died and my entire plan for the morning went out the window. At about 10.30 I texted him to say that I actually could make it for 11am but he said he was already halfway home.

Instead I went to the gym in the building and spent 30 minutes on the treadmill, still doing Week 3 Day 3 of the 5k Runner app:

  • Warmup x 5 min
  • Run x 2 min (7.5 km/h)
  • Walk x 2 min (5.5 km/h)
  • Run x 3 min (7.5 km/h)
  • Walk x 3 min (5.5 km/h)
  • Run x 3 min (7.5 km/h)
  • Walk x 3 min (5.5 km/h)
  • Run x 2 min (7.5 km/h)
  • Walk x 2 min (5.5 km/h)
  • Cooldown x 5 min

I’m still finding that hard! I asked Pete whether I should move on to the next level even if I find this one difficult and he said to stick to this for another week or so. I think that makes more sense.

I then did the squats app for Week 4 Day 1:

  • Squats x 12
  • Rest x 1 min
  • Squats x 16
  • Rest x 1 min
  • Squats x 14
  • Rest x 1 min
  • Squats x 10
  • Rest

And then I did the situps app for Week 4 Day 1:

  • Situps x 7
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Situps x 8
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Situps x 10
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Situps x 8
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Situps x 7
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Situps x 6
  • Rest

I did some stretches after that and went home.

I had a session with Pete on Thursday morning. I began with a walk/run on the treadmill:

  • Walk x 3 min
  • Run x 30 s
  • Walk x 30 s
  • Run x 30 s
  • Walk x 30 s
  • Run x 30 s
  • Walk x 30 s
  • Run x 30 s
  • Walk x 30 s
  • Run x 3 min

Pete commented that the 3-minute run at the end was starting to look easy. It certainly didn’t feel that way! After stretching, I did the following circuit:

  • Incline pushups x 6 on each side (one leg raised)
  • Combined squat/sidekick x 6 on each side (alternating)
  • Standing low row x 12
  • Curtsy lunges x 6 on each side (alternating)
  • Plank x 30 s
  • Double crunch x 12
  • Treadmill x 4 min (30 s running, 30 s walking)

I had a water break and Pete told me I was going to do that two more times. It really wasn’t too bad apart from the curtsy lunges which irritate my knees a little. In the second set, the number of reps was reduced to 10 for the pushups, squat/sidekick, low row and curtsey lunges. And in the third set, the number of reps was reduced to 8. Everything else stayed the same. I did some stretching after that and was done.

I didn’t work out again over the weekend. I had a very chilled Thursday and Friday and thought I’d actually get away with having a healthy weekend. But I had a big Saturday night where I had champagne for dinner. A lot of it!

Low point of the week? I drank a lot on Saturday night.

High point of the week? Four workouts done this week! And no soreness after my sessions with Pete.

Weight loss? Still going up and down.

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Dubai 2015: Week 16

Another busy week!

After my session with Trevor on Sunday morning, my sister, her husband and I took the kids to the Shangri-La pool. We’d wanted to do this for a while but V2 had been quite unwell and coughing so we thought we’d wait for him to get better. It was his first time in a swimming pool. V1 had insisted from the beginning of their holiday that there was absolutely no way he was going to go swimming. My sister told him to just wear his swimming trunks anyway, and that he didn’t have to come in the water.

We got to the poolside at about 1pm and there were no sunbeds available. We put our stuff down in the lounge area and got V2 ready for his first dip. There were no tears, no fuss. He was very happy floating around in his inflatable turtle! V1 still refused to get in. We were all in the shallow children’s pool and kept pushing V2 back and forth in his turtle. Eventually V1 suggested he might dip his feet in. But just his feet. Once he’d dipped his feet in it didn’t take long for him to put on his armbands, take off his T-shirt and get in the pool with us! At about 2.30pm we sent V2 back home for his milk and nap. V1 was still jumping around in the kids’ pool.

So, we ordered some lunch and some wine. V1 had a couple of chicken nuggets, said he wasn’t hungry any more and got straight back in the pool. Then he insisted that we all go to the big pool. He was really enjoying himself!

At about 4pm, I decided to walk home. V1 was still in the pool with his parents. My sister later told me that on their way home, she asked him if he’d had a good time. ‘Not really,’ he responded. Cheeky!

That evening we had dinner at Silver Fox Steakhouse at Citywalk. We took V1’s dinner from home as they didn’t really have a children’s menu and ordered him some French fries too. He ordered his dessert while we were having our main course – it was the biggest slice of chocolate cake I’ve ever seen. It was bigger than his head!

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Of course, he couldn’t finish it. He had a few bites and then fell asleep. We were all tired from being out in the sun that afternoon. The car had to make two trips to get us all back home so Dad and I walked around while we waited for the car to come back for us.

I worked at home on Monday and Tuesday. Vs 1 and 2 and their parents left for Lagos on Wednesday morning. They left at around 6.45am and I went back to bed. Trevor had also cancelled our session and I was so pleased I could have a lie-in! I had some friends in town who were staying at the Atlantis for the week so I went to meet them for lunch. I got there at 1pm and one of them was waiting for me in the lobby. We walked to where he had left his wife and kids by the pool – it was packed! There wasn’t one sunbed free – and the pool area is huge. We ordered some fresh juice and chatted while the kids went back in the pool. We walked over to Nasimi Beach and had lunch there. It was a really hot day. We ordered a couple of salads and the sushi platter. It was too hot for anything else. I had to leave at around 4pm as I had a piano lesson that afternoon.

After my piano lesson (I started learning a song called ‘Take me to church’), I met up with a friend at Calabar. I still had a bottle of Pinot Grigio left over from my birthday drinks and had to finish it before Friday. We ended up ordering a second bottle and I had more sushi as my dinner. I was home early though, before 10pm.

On Thursday I was at home during the day, catching up on work. That evening I went to the Capital Club party with some friends who are members. The theme this year was ‘The 7-year itch’. There were a lot of Marilyn wigs and dresses, and one woman even showed up in an itsy bitsy teeny weeny (pink) polka dot bikini! The spread of food was amazing. Last year we made the mistake of drinking first and missed out on all the good food. This year, we knew exactly what to do!

After a couple of drinks, we went down to the third floor. There was a seafood section with oysters, lobster, smoked salmon and different kinds of ceviche. Yum. They also had the champagne bar on that floor. After we were done with the seafood, we were able to walk through the kitchen where they had fresh caviar (I’m not a fan) and where they were preparing the foie gras. Gosh, it was so good. And it was empty! So we hung around there for a bit and decided to go back upstairs.

We stopped on the fourth floor to see what was on offer there – there was one room where they were preparing salt beef sandwiches and nothing else. Again, that room was empty at this point. After the salt beef we decided to go back up to the main bar and maybe try and find somewhere to sit. On the way back up the stairs, I could smell cheese – and remembered from the year before that there was a whole room with nothing but cheese in it. We decided to come back for it in a little while. We found a table out on the terrace and made ourselves comfortable. It was nice to sit down! We spent an hour there – someone went in and came back with two plates of cheese. Heaven! Once the bar on the fifth floor closed, we went back down to the fourth floor. Earlier in the evening they had different live bands on each floor, but now they’d set up the DJ and dance floor – and we danced the rest of the night. Until 3am. Until they threw us out (in a nice way). None of us took any photos which was a shame. On the way out there was a guy passed out on the sofa – and I did take a photo of that, but nobody really wants to see it.

By the time I got home it was almost 4am and I was exhausted. I woke up on Friday at 10am. I wasn’t hungover – I had stuck to vodka the night before – but I was tired. I got ready and went to a friend’s champagne breakfast for her birthday at her place. I picked up a friend on the way and we got to her place at about 11.30. She had scrambled eggs, cold cuts, croissants and champagne. It was a really nice start to the day – and the view from her balcony is gorgeous!

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I also liked the way she was collecting champagne corks!

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At 1pm her limo arrived to take everyone to Cove Beach at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. I had declined this part of the invitation as I knew it would be a long day and I knew I would be tired from the night before.

I went home, got into bed and tried to do some work. I also tried to have a nap but couldn’t. That evening I had a friend in town from London for the weekend (the same one from January and February). We went to the 40th birthday part of one of his friends – it was at the Atlantis, in one of the ballrooms. I knew more people there than I thought I would. Champagne was flowing, we had some dinner – my friend who was staying at the hotel joined us for a drink too (she abandoned her kids and husband for an hour). There were also live performances by Apache Indian (yes, he’s still alive) and Sukhbir. It was a fun evening – lots of dancing – but it was another late night and I got home after 3am.

I didn’t want to wake up on Saturday. I stayed in bed for as long as possible and then got out of bed for lunch. Later that afternoon I met a couple of friends for coffee at the Dubai Mall. They were already at Papparoti so I joined them there. It was my first time at Papparoti and they just couldn’t believe I’d never tried it. Part of me hadn’t wanted to try it because I thought I’d like it so much I’d be eating their buns all the time. I ordered a ginger milk tea (low fat) and had a bite from one of the buns they’d ordered. It was… OK. I think I’d heard so much about these buns that I was a little disappointed. At least I know I won’t be tempted by them again! After we said our goodbyes, I ended up buying two dresses from Debenhams – and then went home.

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

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