Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2016: Week 7

After a very dull week the week before, it was business as usual this week.

Sunday was Valentine’s Day and after the gym that morning, I spent some of the afternoon working. I decided to treat myself to a 90-minute massage at Spa Zen in the late afternoon. It was just what I needed. That evening my dad took my mum and I out for dinner. I chose Taste of Italy by Heinz Beck at Galleria Mall – a friend of mine had been there recently and said the truffle pasta was to die for. Sold!

Everything on the menu looked good – and I came very close to having the red snapper but in the end the truffle pasta won. For starters I ordered the marinated salmon with sour cream, Dad had the seafood salad and Mum had the seabass carpaccio. Everything was excellent. For my main course I had the truffle pasta.

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Dad had the baked seabass and Mum wanted a side order of mashed potatoes (tut, honestly). I’m sure my pasta was about 1000 calories but I loved every bit of it. We shared a passion fruit crème brûlée for dessert.

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I would definitely go back there again.

My Monday was busy. I had a session with Pete in the morning, worked all afternoon and an Arabic class in the evening.

Apart from the gym on Tuesday I was at home, working in my pajamas.

I had another session with Pete on Wednesday. Before my Arabic class I had some errands to run at Mercato and when I left the mall at 5.30 it was pouring. In just the 15 seconds it took for me to get into the car, I got drenched. Luckily the rain had almost stopped by the time I got to the Trade Centre Tower, but there was a huge puddle at the bottom of the staircase and I ended up going halfway round the building via the carpark to get into the building. And by the time my class was over it had stopped altogether.

It was my last Arabic class of Intermediate 1 so we had an assessment. We were allowed to look up words in our books (thank God) and I managed to do the whole assessment written in Arabic. I was also the first to finish by almost 20 minutes so the teacher went through the paper with me once I’d finished. I was quite pleased with what I’d done, but my brain was totally fried after that!

I got home at 9pm and had a late dinner with my parents and some of their friends who had come over.

I went to yoga on Thursday morning and then met a friend for lunch at The Sum of Us. I had a green juice and the smoked salmon omelette with goats cheese. My friend had the veal schnitzel, and he said it was pretty good. We shared a slice of carrot cake for dessert and had some coffee.

After lunch I went to the Hummingbird Bakery at Citywalk to collect some mini cupcakes I’d ordered. It was about 2.30pm but Citywalk was packed – I didn’t think it would be so busy in the middle of a weekday afternoon. Once I got home, I got into my pajamas and worked for the rest of the day.

I’d been invited to a friend’s place for tea on Friday afternoon (hence the mini cupcakes) – it was just a small close crowd: me, her, her parents, a friend who was visiting with her 10-week-old baby and her mum, and a couple of other friends with their 1-year-old daughter. I was the first to arrive so my friend, her mum and I sat outside by the pool for a little while until the others arrived. It was a bit chilly for the baby outdoors so we moved inside. It was a lovely afternoon and I didn’t leave there until 7.30pm. My plan was to go home and change for a party at some friends’ place but in the end I just quickly stopped at home to freshen up and pick up a bottle of vodka and some chocolates.

It was such a fun evening – it was same group I’d been to China Grill with a few weeks ago so I knew it would be pretty boozy and at some point there would be loads of 80s music! I drank a lot of vodka – and I was making my own drinks which is never a good thing as I’m sure they get stronger and stronger as the night goes on. I got home at around 3am (I think).

I felt like hell on Saturday and had a really bad squink. A ‘squink’ is a word I coined to describe the feeling of being hungover with a stabbing pain in either or both eyes. Each time I blink it feels as if the Devil himself is stabbing my eyeball with his pitchfork, causing my eye to water uncontrollably and usually remain swollen for the rest of the day. And it’s usually my left eye (although I once had a double squink – which was pure torture). It’s not pretty. And it only started happening after I’d had my laser eye surgery in 2003. My siblings used to laugh at me in those days – and then it started happening to them too. That, my friends, is called Karma!

I was supposed to meet some friends at Purobeach at 11.30 but at 11.20 I was still in bed. I’d warned them the day before that there was a good chance I’d be hungover so they weren’t too surprised when I said I was going to be late. So, looking and feeling a bit like Shrek, I got ready and went over to the Conrad – I was there by 12.15 and kept my eyes fully covered with my sunglasses! It was still watering a little but not too badly. The four of us chatted for a while and then noticed a woman with long red hair (dyed) spilling out of her tiny bikini top. And then she stood up and bent over and we realised she was wearing a G-string. Oh. My. God. I would say she was perhaps a bit bigger than me – but she must have some serious body confidence to prance around wearing almost nothing! We were mesmerized – it was a bit like a car crash – we just couldn’t look away.

We had lunch at the Purobeach restaurant. We’ve all been trying to eat healthily this year and the three of them ordered salads. My hangover demanded that I have the hot dog and fries and a Coke. It was exactly what I needed. We went back to our sunbeds for a little while longer and then left at around 4pm.

I spent the rest of the day catching up with emails and some TV shows. I couldn’t focus on much else!

I love my life.

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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 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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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.

To read more about Bali, click here.

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Bali 2015: Days 10 to 14

I was up early on Sunday. I’d missed the swing yoga class but decided to go to the gym anyway. On my way back to my room I stopped in the restaurant, Kwee Zeen, for breakfast. I have to say I hate the name of the restaurant! I just wanted some eggs so I didn’t go for the whole buffet breakfast. I was seated next to some screaming children and the restaurant felt like a zoo. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. I had my book but couldn’t focus on it and left as soon as I’d eaten.

I went to the concierge to find out about renting a car and driver, but in the end decided to use the driver who had brought me to the Sofitel the day before. His rate was much more reasonable and he seemed like a decent guy.

I did a bit of work and then went to Nikki Beach, which is at the Sofitel itself. It was before noon when I got there so it was quite empty. I didn’t sit right inside the restaurant, but out on the beach.

I ordered some coconut water and started to read.

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And then it started to rain. Thankfully, it was just a light drizzle, nothing like the day before, so I stayed under my umbrella and continued reading. It cleared up pretty quickly but I could see the clouds heading over to Kuta and Seminyak. There was such a distinct line between the grey clouds and the blue sky!

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I had a massage that afternoon at 4pm – the hotel were offering 50% off massages between 1 and 4pm so I booked a 90-minute massage! I was feeling really lazy after that so I went back to my room and got into bed. I ordered room service that evening and passed out.

I was up early on Monday morning and went to the 7am floating/swing yoga class at the gym.

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I had a pretty busy day ahead of me, with two appointments – one in the morning and one in the afternoon, so I hired the car and driver for the day. Pak Wayan picked me up at 9.15am and I left for my 10.30 appointment near Seminyak. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get there and I got there shortly after 10. The lady I was seeing was busy with her client to I told her I’d come back in a little while. The driver took me to get a fresh juice (I hadn’t had breakfast) and by the time we did that and braved the traffic again, I was on time.

The lady I was seeing was called Dafne and she works with flower essences to heal people. The leaders at the Bali Goddess Retreat highly recommended her and one of the girls had been to see her last week but was fully booked after that. Dafne was a lovely woman from Chile – I couldn’t tell how old she was, but she’s been in Bali for many years. So what does she do? We made small talk for a little while as she prepared her work space, organising boxes of flower essences, and then she closed her eyes and took out a crystal which was on a chain. She circled it over her head several times and then explained she was getting in touch with my spirit guides. She then told me to do whatever I wanted while she carried on (I had my book). She continued swinging the crystal over each box one at a time, pulling out various bottles of essences and putting them on one side. By the time she has fininshed, she had put aside nine bottles.

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She explained what each one represented and how they would help various aspects of my life. I hadn’t told her anything about me before she’d started but when she told me about all the things I was experiencing or needed, she was on the money. She then took out a little bottle with a dropper, filled half of it with vodka (I had been wondering why there was an open bottle of vodka on the table at 10.30am!) and then proceeded to put drops of each of the essences into the bottle. She told me that I was doing well on my journey as some people need as many as twenty to thirty different essences the first time they go see her, and I only needed nine. When she was done, she blessed the bottle and gave it to me. She told me to take a few drops right then, so I did. She told me to take four drops four times a day to start with and then see how I feel as time goes on.

After I left Dafne’s, I had a few hours to kill so I went to Seminyak Square, had an early lunch at Bali Bakery and then walked around for a while.

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I then went to Galleria Mall – I really didn’t know what else to do with myself for two hours. I looked at the bookshop and organised SIM cards for my parents and sister who would be arriving the next day. I then headed to my appointment with Jim in Umalas.

The other three girls on the yoga retreat had all been to Jim and they all said it should be compulsory to see him for anyone visiting the island. So I was curious to see what he was about. I got there on time (one hour in traffic!) and we talked for about 20 minutes – he told me what he did, that he pinpoints areas of pain/tension in the body and links them to emotional situations from the past and present. I knew this was going to hurt – physically and emotionally. I’d made a list beforehand of all the areas on my body that hurt – toes, soles of my feet, knees, left inner thigh, left shoulder, nosebleeds from my left nostril – because I was bound to forget something when he asked. We talked about a few things, some very personal, and then he told me to get undressed and lie on the massage table. I had no idea how much it would hurt when he pressed various pressure points and when he told me what each one was connected to emotionally, it all made sense. When he pressed my right ankle, I almost kicked him. My left hip – Jesus. He said our bodies are like hard drives – you think you’ve erased all the old files and emptied the wastepaper basket, but there’s still a trace of something left behind. He told me that because I was so sensitive to my environment I should protect my chakras when I’m around negative people/situations by putting my tongue on the roof of my mouth – this would close off my throat chakra and the others below it. I’m sure that will come in useful! When he was finished, I felt so much… lighter. And I felt happier than I’d felt in a long time. I asked him how often people go to him and he said he sees some people once a week and others he never sees again. I’d definitely see him again if I had the time!

I went back to the hotel after that (which took another hour) and really fancied a cup of tea.

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I did a bit of work and went to the restaurant for dinner. I was working till after 1am and slept really badly.

On Tuesday my alarm went off at 6am and I thought about cancelling the floating yoga class and sleeping in. I felt like I hadn’t slept at all. But I dragged myself out of bed and went anyway. I couldn’t face breakfast in the restaurant again so I ordered room service. I don’t know what I was thinking but I ordered an American breakfast – which was far too much for me to eat. In the end, I didn’t even touch the cereal or the croissants, just the omelette – and the coffee was delicious.

I did some work in the lobby bar, overlooking the lush greenery while my room was being cleaned.

That afternoon, my parents, sister and grandmother all arrived together. A little while later, some cousins and their mum arrived. The relaxing part of my trip was definitely over as everyone had started arriving for my cousin’s wedding. That evening, we all went to Bumbu Bali in Nusa Dua for dinner. I was tired as I’d slept badly the night before, everyone else was jetlagged and hungry. We ordered loads of food – satays, ribs, prawns. It was an early night for everyone.

The next day my sister and I were up early. I’d asked Pak Wayan to pick us up at 9.30am and take us to Seminyak. I wanted to leave early to avoid the traffic – and we were there by 10.15 or so. We went to Sisterfields for breakfast. I ordered a juice and the eggs Benedict with smoked salmon – it was delicious!

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My sister had the brioche French toast and said that was amazing too.

We walked around Seminyak Village and Seminyak Square and to Indigo Kids, where I bought this T-shirt for one of my nephews:

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We then went to the other end of Jalan Laksmana and walked back down to the Seminyak Square end. I picked up a dress, two handbags, two pairs of Havaianas… I think that was it? After walking around Seminyak for a while we went to Galleria Mall, but that was just a waste of time.

We were both peckish on the way home and got stuck in terrible traffic. We stopped at McDonald’s for a quick bite and in the end it took us almost two hours to get back to the hotel. The roundabout at the airport had been closed (no idea why), and the traffic on the toll road was out of control!

That evening a few of my cousins wanted to go out for dinner and suggested a couple of places in Seminyak, but there was no way I was heading back there again. In the end, my sister, cousin and I had dinner at Kwee Zeen (ugh) and then met up with the others in the Lobby Bar – it turned out that they didn’t go out either in the end. I sat with them until about 11pm and then went to my room.

On Thursday, my parents, sister and grandmother were going to Discovery Mall in Kuta while I stayed behind to do some work. That evening there was an ‘early bird’ dinner at Bejana at the Ritz-Carlton. It’s a huge property which has only been open a few months, but it was pretty quiet. On the way to the restaurant, we passed a Perfume Workshop where you could make your own perfume.

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It wasn’t a late night as we knew the next three days would be hectic with the wedding and family, etc.

I love my life.

To read more about Bali, click here.

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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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Dubai 2015: Week 42

After a weekend of eating out for almost every meal, I just wanted to stay at home and relax. After a trip to the supermarket and then the gym on Sunday morning, I came home, showered and got into my pajamas. I intended to spend the day bumming around the house. I caught up with some work, caught up with some TV and read my book.

I had a session with Pete on Monday and a piano lesson later that afternoon. I managed to finish my recording of the Chopin prelude I’d been working on:

After my piano lesson I walked to the Radisson Royal and went for a massage at Spa Zen. I’d bought two Cobone vouchers before my trip to Bombay and I needed use them before the end of October. The massage was lovely and I didn’t want it to end!

I woke up feeling a bit fluish on Tuesday morning. Ugh – I really didn’t want to get sick! I went ahead with yoga and then got ready for the monthly IBWG (International Business Women’s Group) lunch at the Trade Centre Club. I’d already paid for it, and I didn’t feel ill enough to cancel. Once again, I met some interesting people – and of the four other people on my table, I’d met three of them before. It wasn’t as crowded as I thought it would be, considering summer is well and truly over now. The presentation was all about effective networking – language, body language, etc. It wasn’t anything I didn’t know before but it served as a good reminder.

Once I got home, I got into my pajamas and did a bit of work. I felt a bit worse by the time the evening came round and thought it would be wise to cancel the trip to Muscat. We were supposed to leave on Thursday morning and I didn’t want to get there and feel even worse.

I felt the same on Wednesday but still went ahead with my training session with Pete. I took it easy the rest of the day and most of Thursday.

I’d been invited to a friend’s place for dinner on Thursday night and I knew it wouldn’t be crazy so I went over with a couple of friends. It was a lovely relaxing evening at South Ridge – five of us spent the evening on her balcony with our sushi and wine and/or champagne, with a view of the Burj Khalifa.

I woke up on Friday feeling much better than the last couple of days. I didn’t have any plans until the evening so I took it easy during the day. I decided I wasn’t going to do any work and spent most of the day reading my book. That evening I met up with a couple of friends at Taste Kitchen in Mercato Mall. I had the spicy tomato juice (yum) and the pasta with prawns, garlic and chilli. It was also very good. The three of us then went to see Legend, the new movie about the Kray twins starring Tom Hardy. I thought it was a great movie, but a bit too long (over 2 hours) and a bit too violent (but that was to be expected). The acting was excellent. I was home soon after midnight.

I woke up on Saturday feeling feverish all over again so I spent most of the day in bed.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 41

After a very busy few days, I was exhausted on Sunday. All I wanted to do was stay in bed but I had work to do. I had also booked a 90-minute hot stone massage at the Shangri-La Spa for later that afternoon. It was exactly what I needed and I couldn’t wait to get home and get into my pajamas when it was over. Unfortunately, I had accepted an invitation to a friend’s 40th birthday drinks that evening so I had to wait a bit longer for my pajamas!

Her birthday drinks were at Iris – and thankfully indoors because it was still unbelievably humid outside. I hadn’t been to the indoor section of Iris but was pleasantly surprised – a long bar and lots of seating. The outside area was totally empty that night. It was all women at her drinks – and it was my first outing after the summer (with this particular group of women) so it was nice to catch up with everyone. As soon as the birthday girl cut her cake, I left with one of my neighbours who was also at the drinks.

On Monday I had a session with Pete at 10am – by noon I was showered and back in my pajamas. And I intended to stay in my pajamas until Tuesday morning! It had been days since I’d been able to do that and I was looking forward to it.

Apart from yoga on Tuesday morning, I was at home (in pajamas) until the early evening. I met up with a couple of friends at Calabar for happy hour. We got there at 6.15 so we were able to make the most of it! At about 9pm, we ended up going to The Eloquent Elephant where we had a bit more wine (not very wise). I was home by midnight.

I had to be up early on Wednesday as I had to go to Sharjah for some paperwork. Drinking all that wine the night before really wasn’t a good idea. I got back home by 11.20am, had a cup of tea and got ready for my session with Pete. After that was over, and I’d had some lunch, I got back into bed and slept for a couple of hours!

On Thursday I met up with a friend who was in town from Lagos for a couple of days. We went to his favourite – Wafi Gourmet at the Dubai Mall – and ended up overeating as usual! I actually felt a bit ill afterwards. We thought we’d walk around for a while to digest our food but ended up walking to Patchi (and not buying anything) and then walking on to Eataly where we sat down for coffee. I needed to be rolled home after that.

I got home and did some work for a few hours. That evening I met up with some friends for dinner at Catch at the Fairmont on Sheikh Zayed Road. I hadn’t been there and had heard mixed reviews – but I was pleasantly surprised. We were seven people, and a few of them had been before so knew what to order. And because we were so many we were able to order a wider variety of dishes. Some of the starters we had were: crunchy rice cakes (similar to the spicy tuna on crispy rice at Okku), crispy shrimp and the DXB roll (tuna, crab, avocado, wasabi, yuzu). For our main course we had the Korean fried chicken and a whole roasted sea bass (chilli rubbed, cracked olive, artichoke, rocket greens, turmeric silky potatoes). For the sides we had the macaroni & cheese and parmesan truffle fries. I didn’t think I could eat any more after that and had a small bite of dessert when it came (the ‘Hit Me’ chocolate cake). We also had two bottles of wine (which isn’t bad between seven people!). It turned out that I knew the sommelier – she used to be the co-organiser of the wine club but now works at Catch full time.

There was some debate about what to do after dinner, but I was too tired to do much and was home by midnight.

I met up with some friends for lunch at La Serre on Friday afternoon. We met at 1.30pm and surprisingly didn’t have to wait too long for a table for five people on the ground floor. Once we had ordered, however, the food took ages to arrive! We complained about how long it was taking and our waitress was very apologetic.

I couldn’t decide whether to have breakfast (scrambled eggs with truffles) or lunch. In the end I opted for the portobello mushrooms with braised beef. Divine! After we’d ordered our coffees and dessert (lemon cake and some pistachio thing which I didn’t try), the waitress said that our coffees and dessert would be on the house.

On Friday evening I met up with a couple of friends for dinner at Loca. We met early, at 7.30pm, and it wasn’t too crowded at that time. They have several new guacamole options on the menu so we decided to try the guacamole with prawns. We also had the spinach and artichoke dip (of course). For my main course, I ordered the camarones a la diablo (tiger prawns sauteed in jalapeno butter). We skipped dessert as we were all too full. I was home before 11pm which was nice!

I was up early on Saturday as I had a piano lesson (I didn’t go on Monday so had to make up the lessson). After lunch I met up with a couple of friends at Common Grounds at Mall of the Emirates. Common Grounds is the new cafe from the people who opened Tom & Serg and The Sum of Us, and it’s in the new expansion at MoE. We had to wait a while for a table as it was pretty crowded. Once we sat down, we ordered a couple of juices and again I couldn’t decide between breakfast or lunch! In the end, two of us shared the pan-fried salmon and jerk chicken. Both were very good. I’d definitely go back and try something else. We also had some coffee and skipped dessert.

We couldn’t decide what to do after lunch and thought about seeing a movie at the new Vox Cinemas at the mall but there was nothing on for at least another hour. We eventually decided to go back to my friend’s place on the Palm and play Scrabble! He has a great view from his flat:

2015-10-10 16.25.04

We ended up playing a game of Scrabble on the balcony (I won) and making plans for our upcoming road trip to Muscat.

I got home at around 6pm and got straight into my pajamas!

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 35

I met a friend for dinner on Sunday night. He was visiting from Bombay and I hadn’t seen him in a few years. We met at Rivington Grill at Souk al Bahar. We met at 7.30pm and the restaurant wasn’t very busy but by the time we left at 9.15pm it was packed. We skipped the starters and just had a main course each. I had the fish and chips, he had the steak. I also had two glasses of wine (he abstained). We shared a dessert – some chocolate/caramel pie thing. It was average – I’d asked the waiter if they had any apple crumble but he said it had been taken off the menu. I dropped him off at his hotel and was home by 10pm.

I was home all day on Monday until the late afternoon. I had two vouchers for a massage at the Shangri-La Spa which were due to expire soon so I used one of them. The massage was so good. I hadn’t realised how tight my shoulders and lower back were and the massage therapist spent most of the time working on those areas.

On Tuesday evening, I met my cousin for dinner at Hoi An at the Shangri-La. The food and service are consistently excellent and we go there a lot. Of course, it also helps that we get 20% off with the Essence card!

On Thursday I met a friend for lunch at Coya. I hadn’t been there yet and was looking forward to it. Our table was booked for 1pm and I was the first to arrive – not just at our table, but in the entire restaurant!

2015-08-27 12.57.50

My friend arrived and we ordered a pisco sour each. And then we looked at the menu. We ended up going with the set lunch menu: we each ordered differently so we could try a few things. We had the salmon nikei and tuna tiradito to start with. Then came the sea bass tequenos and beef anticuchos. And then we had the chicken and the salmon. Of course we were still drinking through lunch. After our pisco sours, we ordered a sake each (which came in a wine glass). And after that we switched to white wine. We could have carried on drinking but I had to run a couple of errands with my mum!

After the errands with Mum, I was home for about half an hour and then had to go out for dinner. I met up with some friends at their place and had a few drinks. We then went to The Eloquent Elephant at the Taj for dinner and more drinks. It was crowded and noisy and I have to say I’m not a huge fan of the place. I was home by midnight.

On Friday evening I went to visit some friends and their new baby. I stayed for an hour, had a cup of tea – it was nice. Very chilled. After that I met a friend for dinner at Cave. She ordered the escargots and I ordered the sea bass. I would have loved to order the fondue but I wasn’t eating bread. The portion looked quite small but when I’d finished I was comfortably full, not stuffed. However, as we made our way through our bottle of wine, we both started feeling peckish again so we ordered the cheese and cold cuts platter (it was all cold cuts apart from one piece of cheese). It was a nice evening – very relaxing. And then we decided to join her partner and his friends at The Vault at the JW Marriott Marquis. It was only 10pm by this point so I didn’t think it was such a bad idea! We had one drink there and everyone called it a night.

Saturday was busy. I was trying to do as much work as possible as I was going to India the next day with my parents. I also had my last session with Trevor and a meeting with a potential client. I also had to pack and managed to do that fairly painlessly.

And on Sunday, my parents and I left for Bombay.

I love my life.

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