Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2016: Week 5

After the gym on Sunday morning, I went to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch with my parents and some friends who were visiting from out of town. After lunch I went to Go Sports to get a yoga strap – and I also ended up picking up a new zip-up top from Nike and a t-shirt from Under Armour. Mum wanted to go to Kinokuniya (honestly, it wasn’t my idea) to look around (and I ended up buying a book).

On Monday I had my piano lesson in the afternoon and finished recording a piece called ‘Elements’ by Ludovico Einaudi.

I also had my Arabic class that evening.

On Tuesday I went to the gym and then took my parents to Jean-Georges at the Four Seasons. It was my mum’s birthday and neither of them had been there. The weather was lovely so we had a table outside, in the shade. We each ordered a glass of Prosecco and shared a few starters: truffle pizza, hamachi, crispy sushi, warm prawn salad.

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We ordered our own main courses: I had the ‘simply prepared’ grilled sea bass, my mum had the lamb chops and my dad had the roast sea bass. For dessert I ordered the cheesecake for all of us to share, but they also brought out a little chocolate mousse cake with a candle for my mum (I’d called the day before to see if they could organise something).

After lunch we went to the Virgin Megastore at the Dubai Mall as Dad wanted to get a new printer. I ended up getting some new headphones (Yurbuds) for my iPod, for the gym. That evening Mum and I went to see Sisters at Mercato (Dad went to play poker) – it was a funny movie if you’re in the mood for a chick flick. We had planned to grab a bite at Mercato after the movie but we were still so full from lunch so we came home and had some soup instead.

I had a session with Pete on Wednesday morning and my Arabic class in the evening.

On Thursday evening I went to the Capital Club for a friend’s birthday. I got there at about 7.30pm and met a few of her friends. I’d met a couple of them before, but it was mostly a new crowd. They were a fun group and there was a lot of vodka. I left at around 2.15am (several of them were still there) and it was only when I got home that I hadn’t eaten anything since lunch – apart from some peanuts at the bar…

On Friday afternoon, I went to Spa Zen for a massage with my friend who had celebrated her birthday the night before. Our massages were at 4.15pm but we met at 3.30pm and chatted in the relaxation room until our appointments began. Luckily there was nobody else in the room! After our massages, we carried on talking until 7pm before deciding it was time to get ready and go home. I got home, ordered some sushi and got into my pajamas.

I was home on Saturday, doing some work and generally lazing around. In the evening, my friend picked me up for our usual walk on the beach. We got there a bit later than usual but still managed to catch a gorgeous sunset! I was home by 7.15pm and had a relaxing evening at home.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2016: Week 4

I was at the gym on Sunday morning, even though I’d done eight workouts the week before. I worked the rest of the day.

On Monday I asked my piano teacher if I could postpone my lesson to later in the week. I was really up to my eyeballs in work and just didn’t have the time. He suggested Wednesday afternoon – and I agreed as I would have finished most of my work by then. I had a session with Pete on Monday morning and my Arabic class in the evening.

On Tuesday morning I went to the gym, came home, showered and got back into pajamas. I worked the rest of the day.

I went to a Hatha Yoga class at Eco Yoga Sanctuary on Wednesday morning as Pete was away. My piano teacher texted to say he had to cancel our class (thank goodness because I was still so busy). And I had another Arabic lesson that evening.

I went to the gym on Thursday morning and worked the rest of the day. That evening I went to see Simple Minds in concert at the Dubai Tennis Stadium next to Irish Village. Similar to the Spandau Ballet concert in September, I was one of the younger people in the audience! I also realised that apart from ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ and ‘Alive and Kicking’, I didn’t really know any of their songs. I thought they would play ‘Don’t You…’ right at the end as their encore – but they played it in the first hour of the show.

I love that song. It reminds me of London in the summer of 1985 when I went to see The Breakfast Club with my older cousins who were visiting from the USA – they had to plead with my mum to let me go because it was rated ’15’ and I was only 12 at the time. Of course, I loved the movie – and still do…

They also played ‘Promised You a Miracle’, which I had no idea that they sang. Their penultimate song was ‘Alive and Kicking’ and their final encore was a song I didn’t know. Even though I didn’t know much of their music, they had tremendous energy (they were on stage for 2 hours straight) – and some of the moves that Jim Kerr had made me convinced that he does yoga! The word ‘spry’ came to mind when he was on stage! I didn’t hang around for drinks after the concert and was home before midnight.

It was cloudy and grey on Friday.

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On Friday night I had my first real night out in ages. A friend had organised a surprise evening for her husband’s birthday and we were all to meet at 8.30pm at El Sur at the Westin Mina Seyahi. It was really cold and windy that evening – and by the time I’d walked to the car my hair looked like a nest and I’d also flashed the whole of Sheikh Zayed Road as a gust of wind blew my dress up around my waist! Not embarrassing at all…

So, we met at El Sur for a few drinks to begin with. I hadn’t seen quite a few of them since our Christmas dinner at The Scene, back in December before my trip to Bali, so it was really nice to catch up with everyone. A little before 10pm we walked over to China Grill because we had a table booked for their night brunch. For AED250, you get unlimited food and house beverages until 1.30am. The food was snacky stuff like dim sum, sushi, beef skewers, calamari – but you could order as much of it as you wanted until midnight. And house spirits and house wine were also unlimited. I stuck to vodka even though there were trays of tequila shots going around (also included in the price)! It was a really fun night – the music was great, everyone was dancing and I think everyone had a good time. I was home at around 2.30am.

I was home for most of Saturday and then met up with a friend for our Saturday walk along Jumeirah Beach. It had been overcast for most of the day but the sun started coming out at around 4pm and by the time we got to the beach we were treated to a glorious sunset.

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It was still cold though – and by the time I got home all I wanted was a hot shower, some hot food and my warm bed.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2016: Week 3

I went to the gym on Sunday morning and went to Eco Yoga Sanctuary that evening but realised it was a teacher I didn’t like and left!

Monday was a busy day – I had a session with Pete in the morning. That afternoon I had a piano lesson (I started making a recording of my latest piece) and that evening I had my Arabic class. I’m quite enjoying being back in class but finding the time to study at home is another matter!

I was home all day on Tuesday, apart from going to the gym. I had another session with Pete on Wednesday morning and that evening I had another Arabic class.

I’d been swamped with work ever since Christmas and by Wednesday night I had just three papers left to edit – and they were all due on Friday. That would be easy – and I could enjoy my weekend totally guilt-free!

I went to a Hatha Flow class at Eco Yoga Sanctuary on Thursday morning and finished off those three papers. That evening I went to Wine Club at Origami at the Nassima Royal Hotel – and while I was there I got email notifications of papers being sent to me for editing. By the time I got home, there were 22 of them – six due on Monday, ten due on Tuesday and eight on Wednesday. Oh. My. God.

Anyway, back to Wine Club. It was the first time I’d been in over a year. As usual, there were six wines – this time all six were from South America. There were three white wines and three red wines, all blinded.

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I really think I’m going off wine, white wine in particular – which is surprising because I usually love white wine. I didn’t like any of these three, including the Sauvignon Blanc, and didn’t finish them. The three red wines were OK, and I drank those. There were a few nibbles served at each table (mostly bread-based), but I wouldn’t call it a meal by any standards! As I knew how much work I had to do, and I wanted to go to the gym in the morning, and I seem to have gone off wine, I left soon after the wines were revealed. I was home by 11pm, and did a bit of work.

I went to the gym on Friday and did some work. That evening I went to Maya at Le Royal Meridien for a friend’s birthday. I got there at around 6pm, just as the sun was setting. It was nice to see people I hadn’t seen in a while and I was there till midnight. I had a few vodkas, but again I didn’t go overboard as I had a huge amount of work to get through.

I was home all day on Saturday (apart from the gym and a walk on the beach). My parents were out for dinner so I had the place to myself, which was nice. I did a bit more work but was struggling to keep my eyes open and decided to have an early night.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2016: Week 2

Apart from going to the gym on Sunday, I didn’t do much else apart from work.

Monday was a busy day – I had a session with Pete in the morning. That afternoon I had a piano lesson and that evening I had my Arabic class. I managed to get through the class – I’ve realised I can remember most of the grammar but my vocabulary is awful! I need to build that up again…

I was at home on Tuesday, apart from going to the gym. I had another session with Pete on Wednesday morning and that evening I had another Arabic class.

I went to a Hatha Flow class at Eco Yoga Sanctuary on Thursday morning. That afternoon I went to Mercato to buy a present for a friend’s baby. I wasn’t sure what to buy and stumbled across a shop I’d never seen called Caramel & Sun – they had some different things in there and I ended up buying a gift box for a baby girl. It had a baby blanket, little photo album, a bangle for the mother, and a couple of other little things in it. While the gift was being wrapped I started chatting with the owner of the store, a French woman. She said the store had been open since August and was doing quite well. She said their sale was starting the following day but that she’d give me the sale price anyway – that was nice of her. I’ll go back for more gifts when I need to!

That evening I met up with my friend who was visiting Dubai on her way to Pakistan – with her 7-week-old baby and husband. Two of their friends also joined us, so we were five people in total. We went to the Armenian restaurant Mayrig on the Boulevard Downtown. I’d heard that the restaurant was really good and had been keen to try it. We started with some hummus, lentil salad, soubeureg (pastry with three cheeses) and the kibbeh with cherry coulis and yoghurt. The cheesy pastry thing was a bit bland and too cheesy but everything else was excellent. We ordered a variety of things for our main course: soujouk fekhara (beef sausages in tomato sauce – this is a starter dish though), grilled kebab and one grilled hammour. I was surprised that all the kebabs were beef rather than lamb… and I also thought the starters were better than the main courses. It was an earlyish night and I was home by 11pm.

I pottered around the house on Friday for a while and started working after lunch. A friend had invited me over to his place on the Palm for the afternoon/evening but I’d told him I’d have to see how work was going. At about 4pm, I thought: ‘F*** this, I need to get out of the house’. So I got ready and went over to the Palm – I was there in time for a cup of tea and the sunset.

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He’d invited a few other friends over, some of whom I’d met before. He brought out the fishing rods and a couple of them went down to the beach to see if they could catch anything. And one of them caught a 3-foot barracuda! Remind me never to swim there! Once the fish was dead, it was handed over to the cook to be cleaned and cooked for dinner. There was a lot of fish and all eight of us had some. It’s not my favourite fish to eat, but it doesn’t get much fresher than that. After dinner, we moved over to the open fire and sat there for a while – it was quite a chilly night and I decided to have some red wine – it was the first day I was drinking since Christmas Day. Three whole weeks! We then moved indoors for a few rounds of karaoke… I got home at around 2.30am.

I was tired on Saturday. I’d slept late on Friday night and was up early on Saturday and couldn’t get back to sleep. I eventually got out of bed and did a bit of work after lunch. At 5pm a friend picked me up for a walk on Jumeira Open Beach. I’d never been there before but it was lovely – the fresh air, the sea breeze and the sunset…

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We walked for an hour and then went home. I had dinner with my parents and spent the rest of the evening working and reading.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2016: Week 1

I woke up with a start at 7am on Friday, New Year’s Day. I could smell smoke all over the flat and I got out of bed to find out where it was coming from. I thought something was on fire but I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. I opened the front door and the smell of smoke was even stronger out by the lifts. I called security downstairs and told them I could smell smoke everywhere. He said he’d take a look and get back to me. He called me a few minutes later to say that the whole building smelled of smoke because of the fire at the Address Hotel Downtown the night before. The wind had changed direction and was blowing the smoke towards us. I couldn’t believe the hotel was still smouldering.

I was home all of Friday. I was working and reading. On Saturday I went out to get some new gym clothes but was home the rest of the day. I went to the gym on Sunday but that was it – I worked the rest of the day.

I had a session with Pete on Monday morning. I got ready straight after my session and went to meet my cousin for brunch. He was in transit for a few hours on his way back to New York.

We went to The Sum of Us for a bite. I had a green juice and ordered the smoked salmon salad. He had the lamb salad. Considering we ordered just salad, it took a very long time for the food to come! When the food finally arrived, I realised my smoked salmon salad wasn’t smoked salmon at all – it was more like seared salmon. It was still good though. I was at home working after that. I cancelled my piano lesson as I had so much work to do and was starting to panic about deadlines!

Apart from the gym on Tuesday, I worked. At about 4pm I decided to stop working and look at my Arabic course books from the previous classes I’d taken. I was starting a new Arabic course on Wednesday, Intermediate I, and hadn’t done any Arabic in almost two years. In hindsight, looking at those course books and realising how much I’d forgotten probably wasn’t a good idea. I guess you can’t cram several months of Arabic into two days!

I had another session with Pete on Wednesday morning. That evening I had my Arabic class.

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Apart from one other person and myself, all the others in the class had been on the previous course together. So they all knew each other and were more practised with their Arabic. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be though – I remembered a lot of the grammar, now I just need to brush up on my vocabulary to really catch up with them. It was the first time I was doing an evening class – all the other courses I’d been on were in the morning. They seemed like a fun group though. The classes have really changed since the last time I did Arabic – the teacher now writes on a tablet on her desk, which is project onto the screen behind her, and we all get sent PDF files of the class the following morning. It certainly beats taking photos of the blackboard every few minutes!

I went to a yoga class on Thursday morning and had a much-needed manicure and pedicure that afternoon. My feet were starting to resemble something that could swoop down from the sky and snatch my dinner out of a lake – I hadn’t even wanted to touch my own feet in the yoga class that morning. I also wanted to get out of the house for a while. All I’d done all week was work, and I needed a break. I stayed in on Thursday night.

I was home all of Friday and most of Saturday. I decided to treat myself to a 90-minute massage at Spa Zen on Saturday afternoon. It was amazing. And it was also an Entertainer voucher so I got a voucher for another massage! I got home at the same time as my parents were arriving from the airport. I’d really enjoyed having the place to myself – I think that was part of the reason I hadn’t really forced myself to go anywhere! I also hadn’t had a drink since Christmas Day but I sensed all that would change now that my parents were back!

I love my life.

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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.

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Bali 2015: Days 18 and 19

My sister and I were up early on Monday as I’d booked Pak Wayan to take us to Seminyak (yes, again). We were ready by 9.30 but by the time we’d said goodbye to our grandmother and some other relatives who were leaving straight after the wedding, it was closer to 10.30 by the time we left.

We decided to go to Jalan Seminyak this time instead of Jalan Laksmana. We walked for a little while, tried on some shoes in Kat Sweet (a shoe shop we’d been to in 2012 – the shoes are the same!), and then decided to go to Warung Made for lunch. It was noon by this time and we were hungry! We ordered chicken satays, spring rolls and mie goreng.

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It was so good. The spring rolls were just average but the the other two dishes were yum.

We walked around a little longer but then I had to leave as I had another appointment with Jim in Umalas (I still think he’s amazing). While I was at my appointment, my sister had a massage at Kaiana Spa, in the same complex as Warung Made. When I got back to Seminyak, she was in a shop buying gifts and I ended up buying an incense holder and enough incense sticks to last me six months!

It was about 4.30pm by this time and we were feeling peckish again. We decided we couldn’t leave Seminyak and not go to our favourite place, Trattoria. We shared the beef carpaccio and a pizza David (mozzarella, mushrooms, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil-infused olive oil). Oh. My. God. I could have eaten that pizza twice.

We got back to the Sofitel at about 7pm and had to get ready as we were having dinner with Harry at 7.30. After much debating we ended up going to Bali Nikmat in Kuta – one of my favourites. We were back at the hotel by 11pm.

On Tuesday morning, my sister left for the airport at about 11.30am. I had lunch with my parents before they left for the airport a little while later. I had until 9pm to entertain myself. I was able to get a late checkout at 6pm (but had to pay for it). I decided to go back to the Ritz-Carlton to do the perfume workshop. I got there at around 2pm and was seated in front of dozens of little bottles.

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The lady explained base notes, middle notes and top notes to me and I then got to choosing the scents I liked. My eventual choices were: base notes – Oriental, Chypre, Smoky and Massoia; middle notes – Ylang-ylang, Champaka, Tuberose and Frangipani; and top notes – Herbaceous, Aquatic and Bergamot.

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I then got to play around with creating a perfume – I made three different samples, and then had to decide whether I preferred a light perfume or something a bit heavier. When I’d decided, they made me a bottle of perfume and packaged it for me.

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They also kept my perfume on file so that if I ever want to reorder it, they’ll know what to create.

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The lady told me I shouldn’t open the perfume for three weeks, to give the molecules time to settle.

After I was finished, I tried to find Harry (he works at the Ritz-Carlton) but it took ages to get hold of him, and by the time I managed he was just going into a meeting. In the 10 minutes that I waited in the lobby of the hotel trying to call him, I was bitten at least eight times on my lower legs by mosquitoes!

I got back to the Sofitel and finished off my packing, convinced that my suitcase weighed more than my luggage allowance of 30 kg. I checked out of my room at 6pm and went to sit with my aunt and uncle in their room.

I left for the airport at around 9pm. Luckily there was no traffic and I was there in about 20 minutes. I checked in – my bag weighed exactly 30 kg! And then I had time to kill and didn’t really know what to do with myself. So I went to the bookshop and browsed, and then decided to get some food at Last Wave – a restaurant/bar near the departure gates.

And finally it was time to board. I hoped the flight would be as empty as the one I flew in on, but no such luck. I couldn’t believe my holiday was already over and I was heading home to Dubai! I had an amazing time though – and Bali, I’ll be back 🙂

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 49

I spent all of Sunday at home, enjoying the last day of quiet before my parents got back from their trip.

They were home by 8am on Monday morning. I had a session with Pete on Monday morning and a piano lesson that afternoon. I went home after that and carried on with some work.

I had some errands to run at Mercato on Tuesday but apart from that, I was at home.

Wednesday was busy. I had another session with Pete. We had our session outside even though the gym is finally finished! That afternoon I had my hair coloured and cut, which seemed to take forever.

On Wednesday evening I had Christmas dinner at The Scene in Pier 7, behind Marina Mall. There were 12 of us seated at a long table. I think it was the first turkey dinner I’d had since I moved to Dubai almost four years ago. I started with the smoked salmon starter and then had the roast turkey and trimmings for my main course. I didn’t have dessert. After a few more drinks, everyone was planning where to go to next, but I decided to go home as I knew I had a busy day the next day and still had some work to finish off.

I think the concept of having seven different bars and restaurants in one place is great, but it could have been planned better. There are three lifts which stop at all seven floors and waiting for them is just annoying. Leaving Pier 7 is also pretty awful. We waited for a taxi and then eventually decided to walk up to the main road. It must have taken us almost 20 minutes to get a cab – there weren’t many around that evening, and those that were around and available weren’t even stopping.

A friend of mine (R) arrived from London on Thursday morning and was staying at the Fairmont on Sheikh Zayed Road. We’d arranged to meet at the sports bar just off the lobby of the Fairmont at noon, but I was running late and got there at 12.30pm. R had a pint and I had some water. He’d booked a table at Okku for lunch so we walked there from the Fairmont. It was empty – there were only two other tables apart from ours. We ordered some water and a bottle of cold sake (which I can’t believe we finished!). We shared two starters and two main courses: we had the spicy tuna on crispy rice and the beef tataki, and for our main course we had the Chilean sea bass and lamb cutlets with the truffle fried rice. All the food was excellent.

After lunch, R had a meeting and I had some errands to run but we arranged to meet at the sports bar at the Fairmont later on. I did my errands, packed my suitcase and was at the Fairmont by 6pm. A friend of R’s joined us as well and we had a few drinks. We started with a mojito, then switched to a vodka tonic, and then had a shot of whiskey for the road with a beer chaser. I’m so glad I went home after that. I was surprisingly sober and had dinner with my parents and finished off my packing.

I left for the airport at 6.45am on Friday morning. I checked in my bag, picked up a copy of The Economist and a book and went to the gate. Well, the gate consisted of a waiting room where we were then taken by bus to the plane. The journey on the bus took so long I wondered if we were being driven to Bali. I had a window seat and I didn’t think the flight would be crowded. Sure enough when they closed the doors, I had two empty seats next to me. After breakfast was served, I stretched out for the first half of the flight and managed to sleep, and then read and watched two movies for the rest of the flight.

I love my life.

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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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Dubai 2015: Week 47

I was home all day on Sunday until the evening when I went to a Sculpt Yoga class at Rawr Yoga in Media City. The class is run by Chandra, my friend who organises the Jamaican yoga retreats, so I went along and then the two of us had dinner together afterwards. We went to Circle Cafe in the CNN Building in Media City. The weather was lovely so we sat outside. I ordered a fresh juice (carrot, ginger, orange) and an Asian chicken salad. Chandra ordered the green juice and the goat’s cheese salad. The portions were huge! I’d heard a lot about Circle Cafe and was glad I could finally try it.

I had a session with Pete on Monday morning and a piano lesson that afternoon. After my piano lesson, I had a massage at Spa Zen at the Nassima Royal Hotel. I’d booked a 90-minute massage and it was just fantastic. I think I even fell asleep at one point. I didn’t want to get up and go home when it was over!

I was home all day on Tuesday until the evening. I joined a friend at her swing yoga class at Voyoga in Tecom. Oh. My. Goodness. It was really tough!

I didn’t have my session with Pete on Wednesday as the gym in our building is closed while they give it a makeover. That afternoon, I went to a secondhand bookshop called House of Prose in Jumeirah Plaza (shop 5-B). I’d been looking for somewhere to donate some books and a friend told me that they buy books from you. I took about fifteen books and the lady in the shop went through them while I browsed the shelves (dangerous).

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She told me they only buy the books they need – and the ones that they don’t need can be donated to charity. Perfect! She also told me that whatever books I bought from them could be returned and I’d get a 50% refund. Amazing! I did end up buying a book (I just couldn’t help myself).

My parents got back from India on Wednesday evening so I spent the evening at home with them. I was home all day on Thursday too – I went to the gym in the morning but worked the rest of the day.

On Friday I was out for brunch with some new friends at Hanaaya at the Jumeirah Mina A’Salam. What a spread! I stuck to sushi and the Lebanese stuff – I probably should have eaten more as I had a lot of wine. After brunch we walked over to Bahri Bar and had a few more drinks there.

I didn’t know this but they have a little turtle rehabilitation project at the Mina A’Salam and you can watch the turtles at play…

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I got home at around 7.30pm and then had dinner with my parents at Yabani at City Walk.

I spent all of Saturday at home, in my pajamas 🙂

I love my life.

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