Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

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:

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

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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.

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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.

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Dubai 2015: Week 39

After going to the gym on Sunday morning, I decided to take the rest of the day off. I’d done quite a bit of work over the weekend and felt like switching off for a while.

I had a facial at Dermalogica in the Dubai Mall (I’d booked it the previous week). I’ve been going there for a while now and I think they’re excellent – highly recommended!

After my facial I went to see Everest at the cinema. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would – even though I found it quite stressful in places (and even cried at the end). The one thing that annoyed me was at the beginning when they’re on a bus in Kathmandu. It’s supposed to be March 1996 and yet the Bollywood song playing in the background (on the radio, I guess) is from Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham which wasn’t released until 2001. Or do movies come out five years earlier in Nepal? I thought that if they were going to such lengths to make sure everything is authentic, perhaps they could have researched the music too?

I popped into Debenhams before I got a cab home and ended up buying a dress.

I had a trial session with a new trainer on Monday – I thought it went well!

I had some friends in town for the long weekend so on Wednesday afternoon two of us went to Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal for a 90-minute massage. Damn, it was good. I hadn’t had a massage in ages. After sitting in the relaxation room for a while, we went to The Stables for a drink. It was a little after 7pm and the place was empty. We had one drink and left.

That night I was meeting a friend who was in transit for a few hours. She was on her way to London and we met at the airport. We couldn’t really go anywhere as she had to check in her bags again but the BA counter didn’t open until 10.45. We ended up sitting in the Food Court at the airport (which really needs a facelift) for an hour – once she’d checked in again we went to Starbucks for some dessert.

On Thursday, eleven of us went to The Sum of Us for lunch. I hadn’t been there and had been looking forward to it. Everyone ordered their own dishes – I had the prawn scrambled eggs. I’d definitely order it again too! After lunch, I came home and did some work.

That night I went to a friend’s surprise birthday party at someone’s flat on the Palm. We missed the surprise by seven minutes as we were waiting at the wrong entrance. Oops! I drank far too much and felt like hell the next day.

Friday was very chilled. I had a friend in town from London who was staying at the Conrad. We went to La Petite Maison for lunch. The food was absolutely excellent. We had the pissaladière, crab and lobster salad, and salt code croquettes. For our main course we shared the grilled entrecote and the dauphinois potatoes. A-maz-ing. We shared the pain perdu for dessert. I was so full by the end of it! My friend came over after lunch and we both lumped around in the TV room until it was time to go for dinner. She had suggested going for Thai food so I called Thiptara at the Palace Hotel. I’d been wanting to try the restaurant for a while and we were put on the waiting list for dinner that night. Luckily they called back to say they could accommodate us.

We shared the steamed chicken/prawn wontons (although we initially sent this back as it wasn’t hot enough) and papaya salad to start with. For our main course we shared the stir-fried prawns with mushrooms, onions, sweet basil and Thai chilli paste and a red chicken curry. The food was excellent – I’d definitely go back there again. For dessert, my friend ordered the mango with sweet sticky rice – I had a bite. It was really good but I just couldn’t eat any more!

On Saturday I had a friend’s leaving brunch at Mint Leaf in DIFC. He’d booked and paid for brunch for twenty people. Apart from him and one other friend, I knew nobody but it was a really friendly group of people and I ended up swapping numbers with a lot of people! Brunch went on and on. And on and on. We were still drinking at 9pm when I left to meet some other friends at Left Bank. In hindsight, that was a really bad idea – I should have just gone home. And once again, I felt like hell the next day!

I love my life.

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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.

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Dubai 2015: Week 13

Compared to the week before and the week before that, it wasn’t too busy a week.

I was working on Sunday and Monday. On Monday afternoon I had a massage at the Oberoi Spa – which was lovely, as usual!

My sister arrived on Monday night with her two boys – V1 is 4.5 years old and V2 is 7 months old. I hadn’t seen them since I was in London in October. They had flown Etihad so by the time they got home from Abu Dhabi it was after 11pm. We had dinner, played with the kids for a bit and went to bed.

On Tuesday afternoon, I went to see a hypnotherapist. I met her at the IBWG lunch a few weeks ago and decided I was finally going to get some help about my fear of descending stairs and escalators (and anything downhill with nothing to hold on to). I’d mentioned her name to a friend and she said she’d heard really good things about her so I was quite keen to get it done. I was at her office for about an hour and a half. She initially asked me all kinds of questions – how long I’d been in Dubai, what I did for a living, who I lived with, were my parents together, where were my siblings, what I did in my free time, whether I drank and smoked, whether I’d had hypnotherapy before (I had two sessions in 2011 when I was starting to lose weight). We talked about a lot of things. And then the hypnotherapy began. I was conscious the whole time while she spoke to me and responded when she asked me to. At times she would lift up my arm and drop it, to see how relaxed I was – or she would touch my shoulder or forehead. When the session was over, I felt good. We were on the first floor so she told me to take the stairs down and see how I felt. So I walked to the stairs and walked down – without holding on to the bannister. I didn’t freeze at the top, I just walked down like it was the most normal thing in the world. I went back up and told her. She asked if I wanted another session the following week but I told her I’d see how I got on and if I needed another one I’d be in touch with her after her holiday. And then I left, taking the stairs again without holding on to the side. I couldn’t believe myself.

I had a session with Trevor on Wednesday morning, and then worked the rest of the day. That evening I had a piano lesson and then met the rest of the family for dinner at PF Chang at The Dubai Mall. I hadn’t been there in ages. We had some hot and sour soup, dynamite prawns and spring rolls to start with. For our main course we just ordered the Mongolian beef and some rice. It was quite a filling meal.

On Thursday night I met up with a couple of friends at Calabar. I got there at about 7.30 and the place was packed – inside and outside. We had a space at the bar so we were comfortable but I’d have rather been outside. We had some wine (hooray for happy hour) and then ordered some pepper beef, volcano rolls and beef sliders (which I didn’t eat). We decided to go to La Petite Maison for a drink afterwards. Of course one drink became five and I got home at around 1am. I felt awful the next morning.

On Friday we were home until the late afternoon. My sister and I took V1 to Oasis Centre, which he loves. We went to Baby Shop (crowded and horrible) to pick up a few things and then wandered around. We took V1 to Fun City and then to McDonald’s. I hadn’t had McDonald’s in months but had some chicken nuggets and French fries.

I was home all day on Saturday. My sister and mum took V2 to the doctor as he’d been unwell for a few days. Dad was out playing poker. V1 decided he’d stay home with me. He was watching a movie, I was doing a bit of work. Everything was under control. And then. His movie finished and he ran into his room. Ten minutes later he still hadn’t come out so I went to see what he was up to. And then he started hollering for his mother. He hollered for an hour. In his room, in my room, in my face. I told him I couldn’t understand what he was trying to say when he was screaming so he would calm down for a few minutes, say what he wanted to say (mostly ‘Where’s Mama?’ and ‘Tell Mama to come home’) but as soon as I would respond he would start hollering again. He didn’t want chocolate, he didn’t want Oreos, he didn’t want to go for ice cream, he didn’t want to play with his iPad. Oh. My. God. Finally I told him I’d call his mother if he brought his iPad to my room. He said ‘I won’t bring it until you call her,’ and I responded with ‘I’m not calling her until you bring it.’ This went back and forth a few times until he brought his iPad to my room. I called my sister – there was no response so I pretended I was speaking to her – and then I told Vinay she was on her way home and that he had to teach me how to play ‘Memory Game’ on his iPad. By the time she got home with V2, he was so engrossed in the game, he barely looked at her! Men. Honestly.

That evening my sister, V1 and I went to the Dubai Mall to do some shopping. We picked up a bouncer from Mothercare and then went to Koton and Debenhams. I tried on a few things – I needed something to wear to my birthday drinks the following week and actually managed to find something (thank goodness). We were home for dinner and it was an early night for us all.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 4

I had to cancel my Sunday morning session with Trevor as I had to be in Sharjah by 10am and I wasn’t sure I’d be back in time. I got to Sharjah, had my blood test and X-ray and was done in about 20 minutes. The traffic coming back to Dubai was pretty bad and I’m glad I’d cancelled the session.

Instead of going straight home, I decided to go to the Dubai Mall and have a look around. I needed to get a birthday present for a friend and I’d seen the perfect book at Kinokuniya – Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck (Charley was Steinbeck’s dog and my friend has a dog called Charlie). On a previous visit to Kinokuniya I’d noticed three Folio Society copies of the book and thought I’d get one. I also wanted a couple of books for myself (naturally). The Folio Society copies were nowhere to be found. I couldn’t believe that three people had bought them and I went to the Information desk to find out if they had any in stock. I gave the man behind the desk the title, the author, the publisher – and he insisted they’d never had that edition in stock. And I insisted that they had at one point. Why was I so sure, he asked me. Because I used to work at that publisher in London, and I worked on that particular book. Anyway, I ended up getting the Penguin Classics edition of the book – it’s nowhere near as impressive as the Folio Society edition, but there you go. I also picked up the new Wally Lamb book (We Are Water) and a book called Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. It was written before Shadow of the Wind but was only translated a couple of years ago. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have bought the second book because I doubt it will be as good as The Shadow of the Wind! While I was browsing I was horrified to see this sign on one of the shelves.

I was so horrified I went to Debenhams and bought a dress to cheer myself up. I was home in time for lunch and spent the rest of the day at home.

I woke up at about 6am on Monday – all I could hear was the wind howling outside. It was dark and looked like rain. It rained most of the day and I hoped that my piano lesson would be cancelled (it wasn’t). Luckily, when I left for my lesson it had stopped raining and only started again after I got back home. I could still see lightning and hear thunder as I got into bed at around midnight.

I had yoga on Tuesday morning and then met up with NP for lunch at Tasha’s in Galleria Mall on Al Wasl Road. NP got there a little before me and managed to snap up the last available table. There were already people waiting when I got there at 1pm. She had the wagyu burger – she said it was better than the one at Jones the Grocer. I had my usual quinoa salad with chicken and a carrot/beetroot/apple/ginger juice. We both had a coffee after that and went our separate ways.

I got home and did a bit of work. I was reading Natalie Goldberg’s The True Secret of Writing and it made me want to start writing again so I decided that my project for the week would be to clear up my desk. (I finished reading the book later that night, and to sum up her ‘true secret’ of writing: Shut up and write.)

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Yes, that is a bottle of vodka. No, I haven’t been drinking it – I inherited it half full. What else is on there? Camera lenses, books, papers, sunscreen, makeup, my old laptop from three years ago which I must get rid of. I haven’t worked at my desk in about two years and I need to start using it again. Where do I work? On my bed. No comments, please.

So I put off clearing up my desk until the evening. And then I spent about four hours sorting out papers, emptying drawers and basically throwing out a lot of sh*t.

On Wednesday morning, my desk looked like this:

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Miles better, but still room for improvement! After my session with Trevor that morning, I had to get ready in a rush to go back to Sharjah to finish off the rest of the visa renewal process. I was in the visa application centre this time. My dad had arranged for someone to take me through the procedure as I had no idea what to do or what queue to stand in. I had to wait in line at the front desk while they stamped all my forms, then I had to queue to pay for my renewal, then I had to queue to submit my passport, then finally I had to submit the rest of the forms. I sat in the chair opposite a local woman. She looked at me and decided she’d rather continue chatting to the male colleague on her right. For about ten minutes. Eventually, she decided she’d better get on with her job and looked through my forms. She told me one form was missing, so the guy I was with rushed off to get it while I waited there, and this ‘official’ folded her arms on her desk and just put her head down. Erm – that’s professional. The guy came back with the form, I filled it in, signed it, she woke up and that was it.

I had a piano lesson on Wednesday afternoon – we spent the entire hour working on the Debussy Arabesque. I spent a few more hours clearing up my desk that day. I even came across my first plane ticket which my mum had saved.

By Thursday morning, my desk looked like this:

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Yes, there was still crap under the desk and that’s a work in progress. But – I’ve been feeling very positive and energised since clearing it up.

On Thursday night, I went to my friend’s Gatsby-themed birthday party at his house (I wore my new dress and he loved Travels with Charley). It was a nice evening – and not as many people as I thought there would be. I had just two glasses of red wine (I hadn’t had any alcohol since my friends left after that mad week they were here). I hadn’t really missed it and even started with a mocktail, but because we were outdoors and it was quite chilly I thought the red wine would warm me up. I got home at about 2.30 and went to bed.

I worked all day on Friday and most of Saturday. I had a sudden influx of work on Thursday and my only option was to work all weekend.

On Saturday evening a friend and I went to visit some friends who’d had a baby just before Christmas. We were there for about an hour and then headed home. And I went back to work for a few more hours! I love being busy at work, but I’d been swamped on Friday and Saturday. According to one of my clients, I should expect it to be like that for the next couple of weeks. Oh well, more work equals more money!

I love my life.

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