Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

The final few

So, after that one Zumba class in Jamaica I did nothing for a few weeks!

It was just too hot in Kingston and in London I was just too busy. I was walking a lot and I thought that might make a difference, but when I got back to Dubai I weighed myself. I’d put on 1.4 kg in eight weeks. It could have been a lot worse, I suppose! I ate really badly when I was in London for the last ten days of my holiday – pizza, chocolate, wine.

The good news is that in the six days since I’ve been back I’ve managed to lose almost 1 kg already – just by being back in a routine of sorts.

The bad news is that I’m going to have to find a new trainer. Before I left, Trevor told me he’d been promoted and would be managing a new branch of Fitness First – he didn’t think it would make any difference to our sessions. Now that I’m back he’s discovered he has no time… He says he’ll finish off our package (there are only three sessions left), but what a shame! I enjoyed training with him. I’ve been given the number for a new trainer from a friend (in fact, Trevor recommended him to her) and will call him in a couple of days.

Low point of the week? Weighing myself after two months!

High point of the week? Being back home and trying to get back into a routine.

Weight loss? 0.9 kg this week.

Fitness protection

Read more updates here.

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Jamaica 2015: Week 6

We were all ready by noon on Sunday, ready to go to Hellshire for lunch. We had a convoy of four cars – my brother (S), sister-in-law (T), nephew (Baby A), my aunt and uncle and various members of my aunt’s family. Even though we placed our (large) lunch order while we were on the way to Screechie’s we still had to wait quite a while for our snapper and lobster.

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We had a few drinks while we were waiting and the kids played in the sand. We didn’t hang about after lunch and we all went back to my aunt and uncle’s for tea. We were there till 5pm and spent the evening at home.

I spent Monday at the office, doing as much work as I could so that I wouldn’t have to do any more in my last few days in Jamaica. S and I left the office at around 4pm and went over to my aunt and uncle’s. T had taken Baby A over and he was running around entertaining everyone when we got there. We ended up sitting there till after 6.30pm.

On Tuesday, T drove us to EITS Cafe (EITS is an acronym for ‘Europe in the Summer’ for lunch. I’d been there last year and really enjoyed it. All the vegetables are organic and the majority come from their own farm. T and I shared a mixed green salad to start with, and then shared two main courses – the beef tenderloin and the pasta. The nanny also ordered the pasta with prawns. We were full after that and skipped dessert. The view from the restaurant/guest house is spectacular.

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We had a quick look around the property after lunch. There was a games room/art gallery.

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There was also a funny sign in the window.

On Wednesday we were home all day and I had a mani/pedi. That evening we went over to my aunt and uncle’s for a drink so I could say bye to them. After that, S, T and I went to China Express for dinner. We over-ordered and ended up taking some of it home for lunch the next day.

My flight to London was at 7.30pm on Thursday. I finished my packing, relaxed for a while, and in the evening, S, T and Baby A dropped me off at the airport. The same guy who checked me in last year asked me if I wanted to upgrade to Club World – of course I said yes!

And so I said goodbye to S, T and Baby A (Baby A kept trying to push my trolleybag in the opposite direction!) and made my way to security. And that was the end of my Jamaican holiday – I read a lot, caught up on a few TV shows, hung out with my family and that was about it – a perfect restful holiday.

Goodbye, Kingston!

Goodbye, Kingston!

I love my life.

To read more about Jamaica, click here.

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London: October 2013 (Part 2)

I met one of my cousins for lunch on Wednesday – we were meeting at Raoul’s and the weather was still amazing so I walked through the park to Lancaster Gate and then took a bus to Clifton Road. I decided to have the pasta with asparagus and truffles instead of my usual eggs. I went home after lunch and did some work.

That evening a friend took me to Restaurant Story in London Bridge. It was a small place but every table was full. There were two set menus: one for six courses and the other for ten courses.

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We decided to go for the six courses but wanted to try the scallops on the ten-course menu, and our waiter said that they were quite flexible that way and added the scallops to our order.

The waiter then placed a candle on our table. It reminded me of the nursery rhyme ‘Wee Willy Winkie’. He also brought over some starters which weren’t included on the menu, such as these flowers with herbs:

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Our waiter told us they were best eaten whole, so that’s what we did. They tasted like… flowers. With a little bit of flavour but mostly they tasted like flowers.

He then brought us grilled corn with butter and ‘rabbit sandwiches’ (yes, real rabbit):

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We were then given a basket of fresh bread. He told us that while we were eating our starters the wax from the candle was dripping into the plate below and we could dip our bread into it and eat it. The candle wasn’t made from real wax, it was made with beef dripping!

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It’s not something I would normally eat, but I tried it.

The portions that followed were small. The scallop dish was really small:

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The main course (wild duck) was a ‘regular’ portion. They brought the uncooked pot to us before they started preparing it so we could see what it looked like.

Before our almond and dill dessert, our waiter brought over some Brie with truffles – it wasn’t on the menu but I had to have it.

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We then had our almond and dill dessert:

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It doesn’t look like much but it was fantastic!

So by the end of our six courses (which turned into eight courses) we were very full.

The weather turned on Thursday – there was a definite nip in the air. That morning I went to meet a friend of mine who was getting her hair done at Aveda on Westbourne Grove. Everyone in London is so busy that I told her I would just sit with her while she had her hair coloured and cut. We were there for about three hours and by then it was lunchtime so we went for sushi. We went to Suzu on Hammersmith Road, close to her place. I’d been there with her before and the food is always excellent. By the time we finished lunch it was time to pick the kids up from school. I went with her, met the kids and then went home to do some work. It was 4pm by this time!

That evening I met up with a friend for a drink. We met at Selfridges and then went to one of the pubs in St Christopher’s Place. I had two glasses of red wine and was home in time for dinner. My first night in! My cousin and I had spaghetti and watched ‘Friends’.

It rained all day on Friday so I decided I’d stay in and catch up on some work. The thought of venturing out didn’t appeal to me at all! I pottered around, did some work, watched some TV. It was just what I needed.

That night I went to stay at a friend’s place. I went over, had a drink, and then we went to Pizza Pomodoro for dinner! I hadn’t been there since 2010 (or maybe even 2009) and the place has not changed at all. We had the garlic bread and garlic mushrooms, and then I ordered an American Hot pizza (or whatever they call the equivalent). The pizzas were smaller than I remember but still tasted great! And the live music was as good as ever… After dinner we decided we’d have dessert and a drink at the Lanesborough. We ordered the cheese platter and the cheesecake! It was a chilled out fun evening and wasn’t too late.

The next morning we woke up and decided we’d go for breakfast. We walked down South Audley Street and into Mount Street Gardens. I didn’t even know this place existed! There was also a beautiful sculpture which reminded me a bit of The Godfather.

'Fire' by Nic Fiddian-Green

‘Fire’ by Nic Fiddian-Green

We also passed a beautiful church.

Church of the Immaculate Conception

Church of the Immaculate Conception

Church of the Immaculate Conception

Church of the Immaculate Conception

We walked to Bourdon House in Duke Street, home of Dunhill. Again, I didn’t know this place existed – it’s a Dunhill store and retreat for men: barber, spa, private cinema, bar/lounge, cafe, humidor. Another hidden gem (well, not anymore)! We ordered some coffee and the Eggs Benedict. As my friend doesn’t eat meat, he asked them whether they could do the Eggs Benedict with Cheddar cheese rather than ham – it was the best Eggs Benedict I’ve ever had.

After our late breakfast I went to Raoul’s to meet one of the girls for lunch. Of course I couldn’t eat (initially) so sat with her while she had her eggs. For dessert we decided to share the French toast and then moved on to Baker and Spice for another coffee.

We had a big night planned on Saturday – me, my cousins and some friends were going to Brasserie Chavot in Conduit Street for dinner and then to Annabel’s for some dancing. I loved the atmosphere at Brasserie Chavot but the service was really slow. For starters I ordered the crab mayonnaise with avocado, and for my main course I had the beef ribeye.

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Both courses were excellent. I was too full for dessert.

As I mentioned, the service was so slow that by the time we finished our meal it was 11pm. Our plans for dancing at Annabel’s were thrown out the window as the two married couples decided it was ‘too late’ and that they needed to get home. That left three of us – we ended up at the Polo Bar next to the restaurant and we had a bottle of wine. The bar shut at 1am but it took us ages to find a cab (it was raining again)!

On Sunday I had lunch with a schoolfriend at ASK Italian next to Gloucester Road Station – a steaming bowl of creamy pasta and glass of red wine was in order. We caught up over a couple of hours and I walked back home (after buying an umbrella). I was home the rest of the day.

That evening my cousin and I went to Stick & Bowl in Kensington High Street for dinner. I thought we’d walk there as it’s not even ten minutes away but my cousin wanted to drive. We got there, spent fifteen minutes looking for parking, dropped the car back home and then walked back! It’s a cheap, quick Chinese restaurant and I’ve been going there for almost thirty years. My mum used to take me when I was younger, and I used to take my brother. I hadn’t been there in ages. Hot and sour soup, black bean chicken and rice – perfect for a cold Sunday evening. And we were home in time to watch ‘Downton Abbey’!

I love my life.

To read more about London, click here.

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London: October 2013 (Part 1)

I left Dubai on Friday, 4th October and was going to be away for almost four weeks. As I was packing I just didn’t feel like travelling – four weeks is a long time to be away from home! I was also dreading the weather. As we touched down at Heathrow, the captain announced that it was 21C outside and it was expected to stay that way for a few days. I was going to boil! I’d packed jumpers and had my coat with me.

Every time I go to London I end up coming home absolutely exhausted. I hoped this time would be different because surely four weeks is enough time to catch up with everyone? Apparently not…

I was spending the first ten days at my cousin’s place in Kensington and then moving to St John’s Wood after that. I got home at about 6pm and needed to sort out a few things including my new SIM card. My cousin had informed me she had a work thing on that evening and wouldn’t be home so I made plans of my own. I met up with a friend at his place in Park Lane and had a drink with him and another friend. They asked me what I fancied eating – I don’t know why but travelling always makes me ravenous! I told them at that point I’d settle for a pack of ham from Marks and Spencer. We walked to Pizza Express in Bruton Place, off Berkeley Square. It was just what I was in the mood for – a drink and an American Hot pizza with jalapenos. Every time I go back to London I’m shocked at how cheap alcohol is and how expensive cigarettes are!

After dinner we went to the bar at Claridge’s for dessert and a couple more drinks. We ordered three desserts but I found them disappointing. Surprisingly the best one was the ice cream! After another vodka we walked back to Park Lane and I got a cab home. I was exhausted.

The following morning I went to see my cousin in Maida Vale and her twin girls who had just turned a year old in September. I spent about an hour with them and then went to meet one of the girls for brunch at Raoul’s (the other was away for the weekend). We shared the crab and avocado salad to start with and then I had scrambled eggs and sausages. Wow – I’d missed that! I didn’t go totally overboard and have French toast for dessert because I had four Saturdays to enjoy with them…

That night a friend was having her 40th birthday at the Haymarket Hotel. She had a sit-down dinner for 60 people – we started with drinks in the Library and then moved into the Shooting Gallery for dinner. The food and service were excellent – and it was nice to see so many people in one go! After dinner there was a live band and some dancing, and then a few of us went to Morton’s in Berkeley Square for a few more drinks. It was a heavy night and I got home after 3am.

Sunday was a crazy busy day! A friend was running the Royal Parks Half Marathon and I’d told his wife I’d meet her for breakfast while he was running. For some reason my phone wasn’t working so I didn’t get any of her messages and was running very late! We met at the Sheraton Park Tower in Knightsbridge where they have a breakfast buffet. When I got back to the table she looked at my plate and then looked at me: ‘You have got to be kidding.’ Nope, no joke: sausages, salami, mortadella, Parma ham and a ham and cheese omelette. I guess I really missed pork! The breakfast is fantastic – I’d recommend it. Our waiter also told us that the table we were sitting at was his favourite. ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘Because George Clooney and Leonardo di Caprio sat there! Wow – I started wondering how I could walk out with one of their chairs…

Once I’d finished eating we walked back to Hyde Park hoping to catch her husband at the finish line. The weather was amazing and I wished I’d taken my camera with me. We saw him running in at 2 hours and 14 minutes – amazing! And he didn’t even look like he’d broken a sweat. When we caught up with him, and he’d caught his breath, we asked him what he wanted to do. ‘I want a pint,’ was his reply. So we crossed the road and went to The Paxton’s Head on Knightsbridge. I was feeling a bit rough from the night before and asked for a half pint – of course, nobody listened to me and I was handed a whole one. The pub was full of other people who had completed the half marathon. We had our drinks and left (I really couldn’t finish mine). We went back to their house and relaxed for a while.

At about 3pm I thought I’d leave them to nap and walk around for a while. I walked up to Selfridges and just as I was thinking about going home my cousin called suggesting we meet at Yauatcha for a late lunch. So I started walking back towards Oxford Circus. By the time we sat down to eat it was about 4pm. I didn’t think I could eat anything after my breakfast, but clearly I was wrong! The food at Yauatcha is excellent – but I thought the service was terrible. Aside from all the usual dim sum, we had a bottle of wine to go with our meal. Yes, drinking again! We’d finished by 6pm, my cousin was heading out elsewhere and I decided to walk for a while – it’s one of the things I miss about London when I’m in Dubai. The sun was setting at the other end of Oxford Street and I managed to take this photo. I took a bus to Kensington and got home at 7pm.

At this point my feet felt like they were on fire. I wasn’t used to walking, and certainly not in heels or my regular day shoes. A friend told me he’d pick me up for dinner at about 8pm and I was so relieved because I thought he’d bring his car and we’d go out for dinner. At 8pm he called me asking me to meet him at the end of the street – he’d walked and wasn’t driving! I met him and we hadn’t really decided where to go – we were just walking around trying to find somewhere. We eventually decided to walk to The Churchill Arms in Kensington Church Street. Even though it was a long walk, and I felt like I was walking on hot coals, it was a nice evening and we talked all the way there and back. I was most surprised that we didn’t even have to wait for a table. I know you’re wondering how I could have possibly eaten any more that day but we only ordered one portion of spring rolls as starters, one green curry with prawns and one pad thai – to share between us. And all the walking I did helped! I was home by 10pm and had an early night. I was exhausted!

On Monday I had a couple of check-ups I wanted to get out of the way (mammogram, etc.) and everything was fine. As I was around the corner from a friend’s place I popped in for a casual lunch – we had soup and quiche. I then walked to John Lewis to meet a friend who was browsing there – I just wanted to say a quick hello. We walked around for about 15 minutes and then I went back to Kensington. I tried to do some work but just couldn’t stay awake so I had a nap!

That evening, my cousin and I went to XO in Belsize Park for dinner with a couple of friends. I hadn’t been there in years and really enjoyed it. It wasn’t too late a night and we were back home by 10.30.

On Tuesday morning I met a friend for coffee in Starbucks in Kensington High Street. I decided I couldn’t bear to wear my slip-on shoes any longer and wore my trainers instead. I also decided I’d go to Kensington Gardens after coffee and walk around and take some photos with my camera. I got to Starbucks and my friend asks, ‘Why do you look like a complete tourist?’ ‘Because I feel like one!’ I told her that in the 20 years I lived in London, I’d never really walked around Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. I wanted to make the most of the weather too. Ever since I’d been in London I hadn’t needed my coat and in the evenings I’d only used a shawl – amazing for October! After coffee, I walked back towards the park and went in.

Walking around Hyde Park was almost like summertime, but without the hayfever.
Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria

The Round Pond

The Round Pond

North Silver Thimble Shelter

North Silver Thimble Shelter

Autumn

Autumn

Speke Monument

Speke Monument

Two Bears Fountain

Two Bears Fountain

The Pump House in the Italian Gardens

The Pump House in the Italian Gardens

The Pump House

The Pump House

The Italian Gardens

The Italian Gardens

The Tazza Fountain

The Tazza Fountain

Peter Pan

Peter Pan

Peter Pan Statue

Peter Pan Statue

Henry Moore's 'The Arch'

Henry Moore’s ‘The Arch’

Diana Memorial Fountain

Diana Memorial Fountain

America - The Albert Memorial

America – The Albert Memorial

The Albert Memorial

The Albert Memorial

The Albert Memorial

The Albert Memorial

The Albert Memorial

The Albert Memorial

I went home after my walk in the park and had some lunch. Once again I sat down to do some work but ended up having a nap!

That evening I had dinner with the girls at Michael Nadra in Primrose Hill. I’d heard mixed things about the restaurant but I thought the food was fantastic.

Whitebait tempura

Whitebait tempura

Scottish salmon ceviche with chilli, red onions, sweet potato puree and garden radishes

Scottish salmon ceviche with chilli, red onions, sweet potato puree and garden radishes

Scotch fillet steak with shitake puree, glazed onion, triple cooked chips, baby spinach and madeira jus

Scotch fillet steak with shitake puree, glazed onion, triple cooked chips, baby spinach and madeira jus

I had the cheese platter for dessert. Amazing. Again, it wasn’t a very late night and I was home by 11pm.

I love my life.

To read more about London, click here.

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Silent Sunday

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Silent Sunday

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Silent Sunday

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Silent Sunday

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Dubai 2013: Week 12

This was a crazy busy week!

On Sunday, my cousin and a friend were hosting a lunch at Roberto’s to celebrate my 40th birthday. When they told me they wanted to have a lunch, I told them it really wasn’t necessary but they insisted. And the invite they sent out really made me laugh. It said:

Oh no, say it isn’t so…
Amreeta is going to be the big 4-0!
She said, ‘A lunch? No way!’
But we decided to have one anyway!

I was up early on the Sunday. I thought I’d be able to go to the gym before lunch, but lunch was at 12.30 and I had to get my hair done before that too. I was tempted to show up in jeans but actually made a bit of an effort and wore a dress. Apart from the hosts, I was the first one to show up at lunch. By 1.15 most people had shown up and were seated at one of the two tables. There was wine at my table (naturally). It was a lovely lunch actually. They’d even had menus printed especially for us.

And I got lots of lovely presents! Champagne, perfume, jewellery, shawls, a Harvey Nichols gift voucher. My parents were shocked when I went home with all the gifts.

I met a friend for lunch at Jones the Grocer on Monday. I’d been craving the Wagyu burger and insisted we meet there! It was a grey day and it was raining by the time we left the restaurant.

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That evening I went to iKandy to sort out the alcohol and food for Friday night. I asked the manager what we would do if it rained on Friday? ‘Postpone it,’ she said. That really didn’t help my anxiety about the rain. It was something I hadn’t even considered until that day!

I tried to do as much work as possible on Tuesday because I knew that once my sister and friends arrived I wouldn’t get anything done. My piano teacher cancelled our lesson as well, and I didn’t mind as I hadn’t practised much that week.

A friend of mine from Hong Kong was supposed to arrive on Wednesday evening but just as I got to the gym for my session with Randy she called to say she couldn’t make it due to a family emergency. I was so disappointed – I don’t even remember the last time we met and had been looking forward to her trip. Much later that night, my sister and nephew arrived from Lagos and it was 5am by the time we went to sleep.

One of my friends arrived from London on Thursday morning. I laughed when I got a text from him saying ‘Fancy a pint at 5?’ – that was our standard Friday morning conversation when I lived in London. I met him at The Fairmont sports bar shortly after 5pm.

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While we were there another friend invited us over to his place for a drink so we went to see him at 7pm. My friend had an early dinner to go to but said he would join my sister and me at Caramel when he was done. Our table was booked for 10pm and he joined us by 10.15! We had two bottles of wine, some cocktails and some B52 shots.

I woke up on Friday morning not sure I’d even make it to 40. I didn’t know what day it was to start with. My cousin had arrived from London that morning and was staying at the Shangri-La Hotel so we decided to meet for lunch with a friend who had flown in from Lagos that morning too. We hadn’t booked anywhere but thought we’d try our luck at Zuma. We were there shortly after 12.30.

I spoke to the cow at the front desk:

Me: Do you by any chance have a table for three for lunch today?
Her: We don’t do lunch on Friday, it’s brunch.
Me: Do you have a table for brunch then?
Her: No. People usually book 2 weeks in advance.

She went back to texting on her mobile. I wanted to punch her in the face.

We walked around DIFC and thought we’d try at La Petite Maison. They had a table outdoors and would need it back by 3pm. It was only 1pm and that was perfect.

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All I wanted was the burrata but of course I ate whatever was put on our table! We also had a bottle of wine to go with our food.

That night I had my birthday party at iKandy at the Shangri-La. I’d invited about 25 friends – I wanted to keep it small – but was worried that because my friends are so random, people would find it hard to mingle and have a good time. Most people showed up (including three more friends from London who had arrived that morning and evening). My parents came for a drink in the first hour and then I packed them off to dinner. It was quite a civilised evening – until about 11pm when my brother-in-law bought a bottle of Patron XO Cafe (a tequila-coffee blend) and started handing out shots. It gets hazy after that – I’d started on vodka, had a shot of Patron and switched to champagne a little before midnight. I remember cutting the cake. I vaguely remember what I said in my speech. I don’t remember having many photos taken but there are loads. I don’t remember paying the bill at the end of the night. I remember walking home (just about).

Considering it was after 4am when I went to bed, I was up quite early on Saturday. My phone had been ringing since 10am and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I opened the presents I’d received the night before: books, wine, champagne, Scotch, an encyclopaedia of wine, shawls, a tapas cookbook (clearly someone who doesn’t know me at all), a ‘tree’ pendant, a necklace with my name written in Arabic on the pendant (which I wore to lunch).

I had lunch at Royal China with the family. I was tired but I knew the only way to get through the day would be to have a drink so I ordered a glass of Prosecco. And a Coke. And some water.

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The Chinese food really hit the spot. After lunch I got back into bed, just to chill for a while, and I had the place to myself.

That night, after I cut the cake at home with the family, eight of us went to Sho Cho for dinner. It was mostly my friends who had flown in from abroad and it was a relaxing evening. We had sushi and sake while we tried to piece together the events of the night before!

It was a fantastic birthday – and I was so touched that family and friends flew to Dubai to celebrate with me! I feel so blessed to have them in my life.

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

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Dubai 2013: Week 6

Well, half a week, really, as I got back from London on Wednesday morning and spent most of the day either sleeping or unpacking.

On Thursday night my Mum and I went to see Zakir Hussain in concert at the World Trade Centre.

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I’ve seen him in concert many times, the last time was in November 2011 in London. What I love about him is that he always performs with different musicians. For this Nirvana 2013 concert he was performing with Bela Fleck (banjo), Edgar Meyer (upright bass), U Srinivas (mandolin) and Rakesh Chaurasia (flute; and he’s the nephew of Hariprasad Chaurasia). Much of the music they played was created by the musicians in the days just before the concert – because they don’t usually play together! They played a fusion of classical Indian music, jazz and rock. They were brilliant (you can read a good review of the evening here). They played for about 2 hours without a break. Suck on that, Enrique!

On Friday some friends and I had booked brunch at Imperium at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Hotel. The hotel is fabulous!

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That’s not a great photo, but the entrance is beautiful.

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Even the chandeliers in the lobby are amazing!

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We were there a little early so we walked around for a while before going to the restaurant.

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It was a beautiful day to be outside and our table was in a shaded outdoor area. It was an all-inclusive brunch, so we got a glass of Prosecco on arrival and we had the option of wine or a selection of cocktails for the rest of brunch. We went with the Chablis. It cannot compare to the brunch at Al Qasr (I don’t think anything can!), but there was an impressive variety of food on offer – lots of sushi, salads, some roast meats, fresh grilled lobster, and even a pork section (which was empty). Considering there was so much to eat I actually managed to stay away from carbs the entire meal (apart from a bite of chocolate dessert at the end – which really wasn’t worth it). We stayed till 4pm and then headed back home.

The trouble with afternoon drinking (for me) is that I usually want to carry on into the night – but this particular day I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to go out! I ended up sitting at home and doing some work in the end (I did have lots of catch up on after my trip to London).

I was home all of Saturday, working.

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

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Dubai 2013: Week 5

My week began with a session with Randy, as usual.

That afternoon I went to Spaces at the Oasis Centre for a Dermalogica facial. I hadn’t had one since November and felt like pampering myself. After that I went to a new salon called Nadia Beauty Style at Sama Tower on Sheikh Zayed Road. I’d bought a Groupon voucher for a keratin treatment and wanted to use it before I went to London. It wasn’t a Brazilian keratin treatment, it was an Argan keratin treatment, and I knew the results would be nowhere near as good as the Brazilian keratin treatment. The stylist put the solution on my hair and left me under a dryer for 40 minutes. My hair felt soft, smooth and shiny – but I think that’s what happens when you suddenly inject Argan oil and keratin into your hair. It was little more than a deep conditioning treatment.

On Monday afternoon I had a piano lesson to make up for the one I’d missed the week before, due to the public holiday. I got to the studio and my teacher wasn’t there. Ten minutes after he should have been there I sent him a text to let him know I was waiting for him. He called me 2 minutes later, claiming to have forgotten about my lesson. Great, I thought. What a waste of time. Luckily the studio isn’t far from where I live so I went home and went back to work.

I went to see Django Unchained on Tuesday evening. I thought it was brilliant! My friend and I went to More Cafe for dinner afterwards. We shared a pasta and a Greek salad. The portions there are huge…

I was home all day on Wednesday. I had some work to do and thought I’d better start packing for my trip to London. I didn’t have much to take as my Dubai wardrobe would have been completely useless in London in February. I took a few dresses for the evenings, some jeans, vests – I’d pick up all my winter clothes from storage when I got there – and the rest of my suitcase consisted of baby clothes and Patchi chocolates for friends.

On Thursday I had a piano lesson at 2pm. At 1.58 my teacher texted to say he was running 5 minutes late. I waited in the corridor outside his studio for 20 minutes and was very tempted to just leave. Did he not want to teach me? If he didn’t I could find a new teacher. Don’t I have better things to do than to wait around? Even if he’d told me at 1.40 that he was running late, I could have left home later and not wasted my time. He showed up at 2.20 – ‘I’m so sorry, I’m so busy, I’m going to Doha tomorrow…’

‘You’re not the only one who has things to do, you know,’ I snapped. Was his time more valuable than mine?

He looked a bit sheepish then and apologised. I had my lesson – he again apologised profusely for being late. I doubt that will change anything in the future though!

After my piano lesson I went for a manicure and pedicure at Amro. I spent the rest of the evening packing and left for London the following morning.

I love my life.

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London: February 2013 (Part 3)

After a fairly early night on Friday I felt quite refreshed on Saturday. I met up with the girls for our usual brunch at Raoul’s and coffee at Baker & Spice. It was the weekend before Valentine’s Day and I felt like having a cupcake.

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Sadly it didn’t taste as good as it looked.

After dessert we went to see one of the girls’ new babies. What a little dumpling! I stayed about an hour and then had to leave.

At 5pm I went back to Baker & Spice to meet up with another friend for coffee. I was actually so full from lunch and dessert that I couldn’t eat or drink anything! At 6.30 I headed back to Kensington.

That evening a friend was taking me to Sushi Samba near Liverpool Street for dinner. He’d been raving about it ever since he came to Abu Dhabi in November and I was looking forward to it.

‘What’s the best way to get there?’ I asked him.

‘It’s right next to Liverpool Street station,’ he told me. Clearly he had me confused with someone else.

‘I’ll ask you again – bear in mind that I’ll be wearing heels, my hair will be done, and it will probably be raining.’

‘Cab,’ he replied.

I booked a minicab from Kensington – it took about 30 minutes to get there. There’s a huge neon sign on the side of the building so you can’t really miss it. Our dinner reservation wasn’t until 11pm but I was meeting him and his friend at the bar at 9pm for a few drinks. I got into the lift and went up to the 39th floor where the bar is. It’s a glass lift and as you go up, all of a sudden you have a magnificent view of St Paul’s and the rest of the City. (I was hoping for the same view later on during dinner so I could take a photo but it was almost as if a cloud had descended around the building and we couldn’t see anything!)

The food was delicious. We ordered padron peppers, yellowtail taquitos and rock shrimp tempura to start with. When I bit into the rock shrimp I realised it had truffles oil in it too – it was fantastic! For our main course we ordered a black cod with miso, the pork belly with butterscotch miso and some sushi. We were so full halfway through that we ended up cancelling the black cod. It was a lovely evening – and we were there until they closed.

I woke up on Sunday feeling tired (again). I didn’t have much planned for the day so did some work until about 2pm and then went to meet some friends of my parents at their flat. I spent an hour with them and then went to see one of my aunts who lived in the same building. That night I had the place to myself – my cousin and her mum were out for dinner – so I ordered a pizza, watched ‘Friends’ and did some work. It was just what I needed!

I spent all of Monday with a good friend of mine. I went over to her flat near Olympia, had a cup of tea, and then we went to Westfield for lunch. We had some dim sum and walked around for a bit. I needed some things from Boots and M&S, and then we went to pick up her son from school. He was so excited to see me! We went back home for a while and hung out some more.

Later that afternoon I met my old yoga teacher for tea at her house in Earl’s Court. I spent an hour or so with her and then dropped my shopping home and went to meet my cousin at Arirang for dinner. We ate too much. As usual. We were home early and I started packing.

I woke up on Tuesday with 100 things to do. I needed to sort out my VATs, go to the bank, run some errands for my mum, meet friends for lunch, finish packing, and so on. I thought my flight was at 10pm but when I checked in online I realised it was actually at 9pm. Thank goodness I checked in online!

I did my mum’s errands, met a friend at Selfridges and we went to Busaba Eathai in Bird Street for lunch. We were supposed to be joined by another friend who was running late. My first friend had to go back to work so I ended up having two separate lunches at the same restaurant! I finished my VATs, spent an hour in Waterstone’s and then went home to sort out my things. My suitcase was bloody heavy – it definitely weighed over 23 kg.

I left for the airport just before 6pm and thankfully the VAT queue didn’t take as long as it did the last time. I checked in (without any trouble) and went through security. I wandered around for a while, decided I couldn’t be bothered to buy anything because that would mean lugging it around with me, and bought a sandwich and chai latte from Starbucks. I made a few calls and got on the plane. I realised after speaking to a friend of mine that a common friend of ours was on the flight too. Shortly after I boarded I got a BBM from him.

Him: What flight are you on?

Me: Virgin.

Him: OK. But what flight are you on?

(That was just so typical of him.)

Me: Haha – yes, that’s very funny.

Him: Where are you sitting?

Me: 56D. And before you ask – no, that is not my bra size.

A few minutes later he wandered all the way back to where I was sitting, claiming that was his exercise for the day. We chatted for a little while and then he walked all the way back to where his seat was.

The flight wasn’t full at all – and I had an empty seat next to me. Hurrah! I tried to sleep but only managed an hour or so.

I landed in Dubai and it didn’t take long at immigration. Nowhere near as long as it took coming back from Singapore! The carousel hadn’t even started by the time I got there so I went to Dubai Duty Free and picked up two bottles of white wine and two bottles of Grey Goose. No, I’m not an alcoholic but there are very few places in Dubai where you can buy alcohol. In hindsight I should have bought another bottle of wine.

I got home at about 9am and went to sleep. It was good to be home and back in my own bed!

I love my life.

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