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 2015: Week 45

I woke up on Sunday feeling really tired. I decided to skip the gym and do some work instead. Later that afternoon I went to the Fairmont at the Palm to hang out with my friends who were leaving the following day. I’d met them on Thursday and Saturday but wanted to see them before they left. I got there at around 5pm – they were at the pool with their kids. I hadn’t intended to swim at all, but sat on one of the sunbeds watching the beautiful sunset! Once they were out of the pool, the husband took the kids up to get them ready for dinner and/or bed while the wife and I went to one of the pool bars for a glass of wine. After we’d had a drink, he came back down while she went up to get ready – so I managed alone time with both of them! I left the hotel at about 8pm, expecting terrible traffic on the way home but it only took me half an hour to get home. I have to add that on my way there and on my way back I had two different cab drivers, and both drove so fast I wasn’t sure I’d even make it to my destination…

On Monday morning I had a session with Pete and spent the rest of the day working.

After my yoga class on Tuesday morning, I settled down to a full day of work. I would usually have gone to the supermarket for the weekly shop but I was so fed up of getting a cab there and back. Kaleem, our driver, was back at work the next day so I decided I’d wait one more day.

I was ready to leave the house at 9am on Wednesday morning, but when we got to the car it wouldn’t start. After sitting in the car park for two months, the battery had died! Kaleem called one of his friends and they tried to get the battery started using jumper cables but that didn’t work either. At 9.40, Ajay (the cook) and I decided to cab it to the supermarket. I was supposed to have a session with Pete at 11am and I didn’t think I’d be back in time. He was fine about me cancelling so late and said he could do the following day instead. As we’d gone to the supermarket so early, we didn’t encounter as much traffic as we normally would have and by 10.40 we were on our way home. I went to the gym anyway and then settled down to some work.

After my Thursday session with Pete, I worked the rest of the day. That night, I went to see Texas in concert at the Dubai Tennis Stadium. I’d seen them live in January 2014 at the Irish Village (but had taken a break from blogging then). The venue this time was larger and there were seats. We could sit anywhere we wanted so we got some drinks and made ourselves comfortable.

The concert was brilliant – Sharleen Spiteri’s voice is still incredible, even after twenty-five years. They opened with ‘I Don’t Want a Lover’. This was followed by ‘Halo’, ‘When We Are Together’ and ‘In Our Lifetime’. She sang a couple of songs from their latest album which I didn’t know – ‘The Conversation’ and ‘Detroit City’. Then back to their old stuff: ‘In Demand’, ‘Summer Son’, ‘Black Eyed Boy’. They finished with ‘Say What You Want’ and said goodnight.

What I like about her is that she chats to the audience a lot! Their first encore was a cover of an Al Green song.

What an amazing vocal range she has! They then performed ‘Inner Smile’ which is my favourite song of theirs. Unfortunately as I was recording it, the camera on my phone froze and I lost the entire recording. So… here’s the one from last year.

I thought that would be their last song, but they did a cover version of Elvis’s ‘Suspicious Minds’ after that. It was after 11pm when they finished and I was home by 11.30pm, which was nice. I ended up working until 2am and went to bed.

I was home all day on Friday, mostly working. That evening Dad and I went to Mercato for dinner. We thought we’d try somewhere different and ended up at a Jordanian restaurant called Azkadenya on the first floor. We ordered one hummus and one fatoush to start with.

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The starters were really good – the salad was fresh and the hummus was creamy. Dad ordered a shish taouk for his main course and I had the lamb cubes. Both were very good but the portions were big – we could have shared one dish between us.

After dinner we still had some time to kill before the movie so we went to the Chocolate Bar for a coffee (for him) and hot chocolate (for me).

At 8.30 my cousin and her parents joined us and we went to see the new James Bond movie, Spectre, together. I wasn’t expecting much from it, but I enjoyed it. I think I’d have enjoyed watching anything that involved Daniel Craig running around for two hours!

On Saturday evening, Dad and I went to a wedding reception at the Four Seasons. We got there at around 9pm, which was a bit early even though the card said 8.30pm. Cocktails were on the lawn and by 10pm there were a lot more people there, and people I hadn’t seen in a while. Honestly, I was surprised to have been invited as it’s not a group I usually socialise with, but I’m glad I went. I caught up with friends who had flown in from various places and I also drank a hell of a lot of champagne. I got home at around 3am…

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 40

I woke up on Sunday feeling like hell. I eventually got out of bed at noon, but only because I’d been invited to lunch at 1pm.

I made my way to Tresind at the Radisson Royal on Sheikh Zayed Road. I don’t really go out to eat at Indian restaurants and I’d been to Mint Leaf the day before so this was really Indian overload.

But the food was so different – we had the modernist chaat trolley, the raan, mushroom kulcha (which I remembered trying at Taste of Dubai) and the deconstructed Black Forest gateau (and a few other things I can’t remember).

After lunch we went up to the bar at Tre for a coffee and to show my friend from London the view. I hadn’t been up to the bar since it had been renovated – but it’s a great space. It reminded me of a hunting lodge!

After lunch, I went home, got into my pajamas and got into bed. I was exhausted.

I had a session with my trainer on Monday and a piano lesson that afternoon. Apart from that I was at home catching up with some work.

On Tuesday night I met a friend for dinner at Tolosa in Souk Al Bahar. I hadn’t seen her since before the summer and it was really nice to catch up. We decided to share a few starters: burrata, beef carpaccio, goat cheese salad and the charcuterie platter. It was all good – but I found the platter a bit disappointing, especially as it seemed to be attracting lots of little flies! We also had a bottle of the Cabernet Sauvignon which was lovely. Nothing on the dessert menu really appealed to us so we skipped that.

Apart from my session with my trainer on Wednesday I didn’t do much else.

And then the weekend was busy! I met up with my friend who was leaving Dubai (the same one who had the leaving brunch the week before). We had a late lunch at the Western Steakhouse at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. He had some relatives in town from Mumbai so they joined us as well. We didn’t meet until 3.15pm so it was almost 5pm by the time we were done. Straight after lunch, the two of us headed to Marina Mall where we were meeting some of his other friends (some of whom I’d met at brunch) and then all going on to Abu Dhabi to see Bon Jovi in concert.

His friend had hired two seven-seater vehicles with drivers to take us to Abu Dhabi and back that evening. By the time we left Marina Mall it was close to 7pm and we got to the du Arena at about 8.30pm. The cars weren’t allowed to drop us off at the front so we had to walk for about 15 minutes from the car park to the arena entrance. It was a really humid night and by the time we got to the arena we were all sweating. But then, so was everyone else! We got some drinks and elbowed our way into the middle of the crowd. I wasn’t expecting it to be as crowded as it was but it was packed.

And then Bon Jovi came on. I have to say Jon Bon Jovi is still devastatingly good-looking at 53 years old. The others haven’t aged that well though – Tico Torres (drums) looks about 70 and David Bryan (keyboards) still has that perm left over from the 80s. They opened with a song I didn’t know (I had no idea they’d released a new album in August 2015) followed by ‘You Give Love a Bad Name’. Interspersed with songs nobody had heard of, they played some of their older songs: ‘Dead or Alive’ (my favourite one), ‘Bad Medicine’, ‘Keep the Faith’, ‘Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night’, ‘In These Arms’ and ‘It’s My Life’.

And of course they played ‘Livin’ On a Prayer’ as their final encore.

It was fantastic. Getting out of the arena wasn’t. There was chaos finding the drivers and we walked way too far down the car park, getting lost from the rest of our group. My friend’s phone was dead and his was the only number I had out of the people with us – which was quite useless. I also had a blister by this point. They eventually found us and it took us over half an hour to get out of the car park. We eventually made it and stopped at a place to get some food on the way home (I was still full from lunch!). By the time I got home it was 2am.

I woke up on Friday – my feet were aching and I was tired. I’d been invited to a housewarming party by a couple I’d met at the same brunch the week before and was so tempted to stay home and order sushi. But I’d said I’d go and didn’t want to flake. My friend picked me up a little after 6pm and we headed to the Marina where they live. It was mostly the same people from the brunch and I’m really glad I went because they’re a really fun group of people and we spent much of the night dancing to 80s music. It was 3am by the time I got home.

I met up with some friends for lunch on Saturday. We went to Tribes, an African restaurant at the Mall of the Emirates. We shared the African lamb spring roll for starters and each ordered our own main course. Three of us ordered the spicy lamb rump steaks and one ordered a rib-eye steak. The lamb steaks were excellent – they tasted like suya in Lagos – but the portion was huge and two of us could have shared one!

I came home from lunch and did a bit of work. That evening I was going to meet a friend for drinks and dinner. As I walked out of the building, I was hit by a wall of humidity. I couldn’t believe how humid it was (I checked later: 85%). Disgusting! Anyway, I met up with a friend at Jean-Georges at the Four Seasons. We met early, at 6.15pm, and got a sofa in the bar area. We had a few drinks and decided to order our dinner in the bar area so we didn’t have to move. We shared the snapper ceviche, crispy calamari (disappointingly average), salt and pepper shrimp, and the black truffle and fontina cheese pizza (heaven on a plate). We skipped dessert and had another drink instead. I got home at about 11.30, after dropping him home, and realised how shattered I was once I got into bed – I couldn’t  keep my eyes open any longer.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mini Coopers on display

Mini Coopers on display

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

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

And that was my week!

I love my life.

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