Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2016: Week 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love my life.

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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.

2015-11-22 17.26.04

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.

2015-11-27 17.09.05

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 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 8

What began as a quiet(ish) week ended up quite the opposite! After my session with Trevor on Sunday, I was home the rest of the day.

On Monday afternoon I went to the Dubai Mall – I was thinking about getting a foundation (I don’t wear much makeup) and had heard that Sephora had some skin-matching machine/app that would find you the perfect foundation. I thought I’d give it a try. I walked into Sephora – and I walked straight out. It was like the makeup equivalent of Top Shop – crowded, loud pumping music and inattentive sales staff. No, thank you.

So I walked to Bobbi Brown – much better. Not crowded, no music (that I could hear) and someone who knew what she was talking about. In the end, I ditched the foundation idea and bought a tinted moisturiser. The reason I don’t wear foundation is that every month my skin is a different colour – I’m either tanned or not, and how many foundations can a person have, really??

I had a facial at Dermalogica after my little shopping expedition. They really are the best – and they have an offer on Mondays which is 25% off your treatment. I’d been using the same products for a while: Special Cleansing Gel and an SPF 15 moisturiser (which has since been discontinued and is only available as tinted moisturiser now – why?). I rarely bothered with toner (although I have it) or exfoliator (I have that too). After my facial, Judy suggested I try the UltraCalming Sensitised Skin Kit – my cheeks tend to be more sensitive – and I thought I’d give it a try. It’s only been a week but I’m amazed at the difference in my skin. The only thing that irks me (don’t you love that word?) is that the moisturiser doesn’t have an SPF. In this day and age, it should be mandatory for all moisturisers to have an SPF.

On Tuesday evening I went to Karma Kafe with a friend. It was ladies night so we got three tokens each for drinks – and 50% off our food bill in the lounge area. We used to go quite regularly but hadn’t been in a while. We had some edamame to start, and then we had the dim sum basket, rock shrimp tempura and spicy tuna rolls.

I had a piano lesson on Wednesday afternoon and then was home after that.

I knew the weekend was going to be hectic as I was attending a friend’s wedding at the Ritz-Carlton DIFC on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I ended up getting slammed with work on Thursday so couldn’t attend the lunchtime functions on Friday (mehendi) or Saturday (wedding ceremony).

Thursday night was the engagement dinner at the poolside. I didn’t know a lot of people there – it was a very different crowd. I didn’t think it would be a late night but we ended up going to the after party in one of the suites and were there until 5am!

There was a sandstorm all day on Friday. They usually last an hour or two and then it starts to clear up – but not this one. It went on all day. On Friday night (sangeet), I was exhausted. I only stayed until 1.30 – I couldn’t wait to get home and get into my pajamas.

The sandstorm continued all day on Saturday too. I didn’t want to leave the house but I had to go and get my hair done at the Shangri-La next door for the reception. I didn’t think Saturday night would be late as Sunday is a working day here – but the wedding card said the reception started at 10pm. I got there at 11pm and was still ‘on time’. The newlyweds hadn’t made their entrance yet. They came in at about 11.30pm – and we didn’t eat until almost 1am. And once again, it was a 5am finish!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 32

Aside from work and sessions with Randy it was a busy week.

I had a massage at the Emirates Grand Spa on Sunday evening. I’d bought an online deal a few months before and wanted to use it before it expired. The last time I’d been there was in September last year – and it was probably the best massage I’d had in Dubai. I asked for the same therapist – I remembered her name was Preeya.

I got to the hotel a few minutes before my appointment – it was like a train station! There were people everywhere – the lobby was packed and the lifts were crammed. There are no buttons in the lifts – there’s a number pad outside each lift and you have to press the floor you want to go to and it tells you which lift to get into.

I hate it when they write 'Saloon'!

I hate it when they write ‘Saloon’!

The hotel and spa seemed a lot shabbier than they did last year, which is a shame. My massage was still excellent though. However, getting up to the 45th floor and back down again was just irritating. In spite of being told what lift to get into, the lifts still stopped on too many floors in both directions. Surely this system is supposed to make travelling from floor to floor faster?

On Monday we went to China Times for lunch. We had hot and sour soup, spring rolls, some dim sum and some noodles. That night after dinner my sister and I took my nephew to Coldstone Creamery for ice cream. We walked there and back – and I spotted this sign:

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Sometimes I just want to walk around Dubai with a big red pen!

Anyway, I had a scoop of the cheesecake flavour – it’s fantastic!

On Tuesday we decided to have a pool day at the Shangri-La next door. My sister, nephew and I went shortly after 12 and went for a swim. We sent my nephew back home about an hour later and spent the rest of the afternoon there. We ordered a pizza to share for lunch – but the pizza was soggy and the service was terrible. We weren’t given any napkins or cutlery, and trying to get the waiter’s attention was almost impossible.

On Wednesday afternoon, my sister and I went to the Dermalogica store at the Dubai Mall. I’d booked us in for facials (hurrah for Entertainer vouchers!) and had been looking forward to it. My facial was excellent. I almost dozed off when I had the face mask on and my skin felt 10 years younger once I was finished.

By this time, my mum had bought my nephew to the mall so we met up with them and went down to PF Chang for an early dinner. We had all the usual food: soup, dynamite shrimp, spring rolls, Mongolian lamb.

Dynamite shrimp

Dynamite shrimp

After dinner we took my nephew to Coldstone. I ordered a scoop of the cheesecake flavour but I couldn’t finish it.

On Thursday my sister and I decided we’d go back to the pool at the Shangri-La. We took my nephew for a little while but then sent him home while we stayed on for the rest of the afternoon. The service was much better – probably because the manager is back from her holiday!

On Thursday night I met up with the people from my Arabic class for dinner. Ten of us went to Loca – we shared guacamole, and for my main course I had the barbecued lamb burrito, and a few of us had some frozen Margaritas too. The plan was to go dancing at Malecon afterwards but not many people were up for it so we decided to walk to Haagen Dazs at Palm Strip Mall for dessert instead. It wasn’t a late or a heavy night – I was home by midnight.

On Friday my mum and I dropped my sister and nephew off at the airport – they were heading back to Lagos. The three week just flew by!

I worked for most of the afternoon. That night I met up with some friends at McGettigan’s – we ended up being quite a large group and bumped into some more people that we knew (some guys I’d met at that party a couple of weeks ago). It was a really heavy night. I drank too much wine and don’t remember getting home. However, I did manage to take off my eye make-up and get into my pajamas.

I felt like crap on Saturday. I slept until 2pm and didn’t get out of my pajamas all day.

I love my life.

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