Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

The final few

I went to the gym on Sunday morning. Someone was already using my favourite treadmill so I started with a 10-minute warmup on the cross-trainer and then did a few stretches while I was waiting for her to finish. I did Week 6 Day 1 of the 10k Runner app:

  • Warm up x 5 min
  • Run x 10 min
  • Walk x 5 min
  • Run x 10 min
  • Cool down x 5 min

I alternated between 6 km/h and 7.2 km/h. I managed to do the first 10 minutes without slowing down but I struggled with the second run. I reduced the speed to 6.8 km/h a couple of times, but for no more than 30 seconds each time, just so I could catch my breath. I was so happy when it was over!

I keep reading conflicting information about how to breathe while running. Some articles say it’s best to breathe through the mouth so then your jaw is more relaxed, while others say that breathing through your mouth causes your throat to become dry and you’ll need to keep drinking water… Which is best??

I had a session with Pete on Monday morning. I warmed up on the treadmill:

  • Walk x 3 min
  • Run/walk for 30 s each x 4 min
  • Run x 3 min

As I was stretching Pete told me I’d be doing the ’30 workout’ again. Nooooo! I wanted to run away. The exercises went like this:

  • Burpees x 30
  • Pushups x 30
  • Cross-trainer x 30 calories
  • Combined squat/upright row x 30 (10-lb weights)
  • Overhead tricep extensions x 30 (10-lb weight)
  • Cross-trainer x 30 calories
  • Combined deadlift/shoulder press x 30 (3-kg weights)
  • Bicep curls x 30 (3-kg weights)
  • Cross-trainer x 30 calories

There were no ‘official’ rests or water breaks but if I need to stop I could – and it took me 24 minutes to do all that. The burpees and pushups were definitely the hardest part of that – I could feel my legs burning by the time I got to the end of the burpees! I had a long break after that and then did the following abs exercises:

  • Hanging knee raises x 30
  • Prisoner bends x 30 (alternating 15 on each side)
  • Crunches x 30
  • Single leg lifts x 30 (15 on each side)
  • Elbow to knee crunches x 30 (15 on each side)
  • Butterfly situps x 30 (3-kg weight)

The ‘prisoner bends’ are basically side bends, but kneeling on a bench with my hands behind my head (as if I was doing a situp). I did some stretches after that and was done for the day.

My hamstrings were sore on Tuesday but I felt fine everywhere else. I went back to the gym. After a 5-minute warmup on the cross-trainer and some stretches, I did Week 6 Day 2 of the 10k Runner app on the treadmill:

  • Warmup x 5 min
  • Run x 10 min
  • Walk x 3 min
  • Run x 10 min
  • Cool down x 5 min

Again, I managed the first run without slowing down and found the second one utter torture. I slowed down a couple of times, but not for long… but I managed to do it.

On Wednesday morning, Pete told me he was going to change my warmup a bit. Instead of walking uphill or the walk/run warmup, I would walk for 1 minute and then run for 400 metres – twice. He said he wanted to reduce the amount of time it takes for me to get warmed up so we could move on to the ‘fun stuff’ quicker. So:

  • Walk at 5.5 km/h x 1 min
  • Run at 7.4 km/h x 400 m
  • Walk at 5.5 km/h x 1 min
  • Run at 7.5 km/h x 400 m

I didn’t press the ‘stop’ button as soon as I’d finished the 400 m – I walked for about 20-30 seconds until I got to 1 km. I did the 1 km in 8 min 48 s. Pete said he wanted to get that time down to 7 min over the next few weeks. This should be interesting!

As I was stretching, Pete told me I’d be lifting some heavy weights in our session. After stretching I did another 8 minutes on the treadmill, alternating walking and running every 30 s. I was very warmed up by then and did the first weights circuit:

  • Chest press (machine) x 12
  • Seated row (machine) x 12
  • Rest followed by two more sets

I had a break and Pete gave me a choice for the second set: leg extensions and deadlifts or squats and hamstring curls. I heard the word ‘squats’ and immediately chose the first option! I did the second weights circuit:

  • Leg extensions (machine) x 12
  • Romanian (straight leg) deadlifts x 12 (20-lb weights)
  • Rest followed by two more sets

My legs were burning after those leg extensions! I had another break and did the next weights circuit:

  • Upright row x 12 (10-lb weights)
  • Overhead tricep extensions x 12 (15-lb weight)
  • Rest followed by two more sets

I had a water break and did a series of abs exercises:

  • Abdominal knee in/out x 20
  • Russian twists x 20 (10-lb weight)
  • Abdominal toe touches x 20
  • Hanging knee raises x 20
  • Standing elbow to knee twists x 20
  • Abdominal toe touches x 20

I was done after that. I did a few stretches and went home.

On Thursday morning I went to a Hatha Flow class at Eco Yoga Sanctuary. When I signed in I noticed a few names above mine – there are usually only one or two other people in the class – and by the time the class started, we were 10 in total. Where had all these women come from? It was the highest number of people I’d seen in any class there. It was a really good class though – focusing on hip openers and legs. It was just what I needed after spending all that time on the treadmill.

I went back to the gym on Friday morning. Someone was using my favourite treadmill so I did a 10-minute warmup on the cross-trainer and a few stretches, wondering how long she would be. When I finished stretching, I decided I’d use my second favourite treadmill and began Week 6 Day 3 of the 10k Runner app:

  • Warmup x 5 min
  • Run x 15 min
  • Walk x 3 min
  • Run x 5 min
  • Cool down x 5 min

Just as I got to minute 4 of my warmup, the other treadmill became free so I moved over. I did a further minute of my warmup and began with the run. I managed to do the 15-minute run, I slowed down twice but not for longer than 30 s – and I did the last 5-minute run without stopping. This was the furthest I’d come with the 10k Runner app – and I never imagined I’d be able to run (or shuffle) for 15 minutes at a stretch!

I didn’t go to the gym on Saturday but I did go to the beach for a walk that evening. My friend couldn’t make it and I went a bit later than usual – at about 6.30pm, just as it was getting dark. I did 6 km in under an hour. I noticed that the weather is changing – it’s still a bit breezy at the beach but the breeze is much warmer than it was a couple of weeks ago. I’m going to have to ditch my hoodie soon and find some other way of carrying my phone with me… I also noticed that I didn’t feel particularly safe once it was dark – and I’ve never felt like that before in Dubai. There were other people around, and most of the track is well lit – not every lamppost is on but most of them – but there’s one stretch of the track which has no lights at all, and there are groups of men just hanging about in the dark. It was weird. I would go back, but not in the dark…

Total distance covered this week?

2016-03-05 16.02.11

Low point of the week? My knees have started aching – I’m not sure why. They were quite sore on Saturday evening.

High point of the week? I did seven workouts this week, including the 1-hour walk on the beach. I also had a very quiet weekend – no drinks, no junk food. All my pajama bottoms are loose for me – unless the elastic is gone in all of them!

Weight loss? I seem to be stuck at 76 kg, and according to the Libra weight-tracking app, I’ll hit my goal weight of 65 kg in July 2017.

2016-03-05 16.02.28

Read more updates here.

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Dubai 2016: Week 6

I had an incredibly dull week.

After the gym on Sunday morning, I spent the rest of the day working.

My Monday was busy as usual – it’s my busiest day. I had a session with Pete in the morning, my piano lesson after lunch and an Arabic class in the evening.

And on Tuesday I came down with the flu. I went to the gym that morning but by the end of the day I felt terrible. I cancelled my session with Pete on Wednesday morning and I emailed the Arabic Language Centre to let them know I wouldn’t be at the class that evening. I spent the day in bed, drinking Lemsip and listening to ‘Serial‘ podcasts. My God, it’s so addictive!

I felt better on Thursday but not perfect and I stayed in all day. And all of Friday too.

I finally felt well enough to go out on Saturday, but just to the beach for a walk.

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

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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.

For more updates, click here.

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The final few

I went to the gym on Sunday morning. I started with a 5-minute warmup on the cross-trainer and then moved over to the treadmill. I did Week 5 Day 1 of the 10k Runner app:

  • Warm up x 5 min
  • Run x 5 min
  • Walk x 3 min
  • Run x 6 min
  • Walk x 3 min
  • Run x 5 min
  • Cool down x 5 min

I alternated between 6 km/h and 7.5 km/h. I can run for 6 minutes at a stretch! I had intended to do the Great Butt and Great Abs apps but was running late for lunch. I thought I’d do it at home later in the day and totally forgot.

I took the day off on Monday. Pete was still away and I thought about going to a yoga class but when I checked the schedule the only class I could do was being taught by the annoying teacher I’d had a few weeks before.

On Tuesday morning, I went back to the gym. I started with 5 minutes on the cross-trainer and then did Week 5 Day 2 of the 10k running app:

  • Warmup x 5 min
  • Run x 5 min
  • Walk x 3 min
  • Run x 8 min
  • Walk x 5 min
  • Run x 5 min
  • Cool down x 5 min

I have to admit I panicked a little when I saw the 8 minutes! I thought it would be more like 6 or 7 minutes, but 8 minutes! But I managed to do it. It was a slow speed of 7.2 km/h but I did it. I don’t think I’ve ever run for 8 consecutive minutes in my life. I even managed to switch off and think about other things so that it didn’t feel too much like torture. I think I need to focus on my breathing more too. I was actually amazed when I got to the end of the last 5-minute run. I’d managed to do the whole thing. And again, I intended to do the Great Butt and Great Abs apps but I totally forgot.

I had a session with Pete on Wednesday morning – he got back the day before and told me I looked like I’d lost weight while he was away. Perhaps I’m looking more toned – because the scales are moving in the wrong direction this week!

I started with a 10-minute warmup on the treadmill:

  • Walk x 3 min
  • Run x 30 s, walk x 30 s (x 4 min)
  • Run x 3 min

After some thorough stretching, I did the following exercises:

  • Combined squat/shoulder press x 30 (10-lb weights)
  • Pushups x 30
  • Cross-trainer x 500 m
  • Combined squat/upright row x 30 (10-lb weights)
  • Bicep curls x 30 (10-lb weights for the first 10 reps, 3-kg weights for the next 20 reps)
  • Cross-trainer x 500 m
  • Combined squat/side leg raise x 30 (no weights)
  • Lateral pulldown x 30
  • Cross-trainer x 500 m

I was supposed to do all that without a break, but clearly that didn’t happen. After each cross-trainer set I’d have some water. The first set of squats were the hardest and by the end of all that, I’d done 90 squats and could really feel it in my legs. I told Pete that he’d just ruined my weekend! But I wasn’t finished. After a longer water break, I did the following abs exercises:

  • Hip raises (similar to reverse crunch) x 30 s
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Russian twists x 30 s
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Mountain climbers x 30 s
  • Rest x 30 s
  • T-raises x 30 s
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Glute bridges x 30 s
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Double crunches x 30 s
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Back extensions x 30 s
  • Rest x 30 s
  • Situps x 30 s
  • Rest

I did a few stretches after that and was done for the day. Hurrah!

My quads were really sore on Thursday morning. In fact, both my upper legs were sore all over – hamstrings, inner thighs, quads. Those squats really affected me! I went back to the gym though – and did Week 5 Day 3 of the 10k Runner app:

  • Warmup x 5 min
  • Run x 8 min
  • Walk x 5 min
  • Run x 8 min
  • Cool down x 5 min

And I actually did it. I walked at 6 km/h and ran at 7.2 km/h. During the second run I reduced the speed to 7 km/h towards the end, but just for 1 minute, and then I put it back up to 7.2 km/h for the final minute. If someone had told me in December that I’d be able to run for 8 minutes I’d have laughed. But I did it… Twice! I peeked ahead to what was in store for me the following week and immediately wished I hadn’t!

My legs felt even worse on Friday and I was really looking forward to my massage that afternoon.

On Saturday evening a friend and I went to Jumeirah Public Beach for our walk. We went a bit later than usual – we started walking at about 6pm and did 6 km again – this time in 58:16. I was hoping we’d beat our time from the previous week but we were 30 seconds slower. We still saw a lovely sunset though…

Total distance covered this week?

2016-02-06 15.43.58

Low point of the week? I was out for lunch on Sunday and Tuesday, and was also out at a friend’s birthday on Thursday evening and had a lot of vodka (but no dinner). I also didn’t make it to yoga this week…

High point of the week? I did five workouts this week, including the 1-hour walk on the beach. Also, four people told me I’d lost weight this week! My mum, Pete, my friend whose birthday it was and the massage therapist (‘You’re getting thinner and thinner!)…

Weight loss? Not a great week for weight loss – but more people have noticed I’ve lost weight. According to my Libra weight-tracking app I won’t hit my goal weight of 65 kg until 2049! Hopefully next week will be better.

2016-02-06 15.43.18

Read more updates here.

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Dubai 2016: Week 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was cloudy and grey on Friday.

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

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

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

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

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

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Dubai 2016: Week 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

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Dubai 2016: Week 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love my life.

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Bombay 2015: Week 1

My parents and I left for Bombay on Sunday afternoon as my dad was supposed to have surgery. They were travelling in First Class and I was in Business Class (the perk of travelling with my parents!) so we had two Emirates cars take us to the airport. (I think there were two cars because my booking was made separately, but it really wasn’t necessary to have two cars.)

We got to the airport – check-in was easy, security was easy, immigration was easy. Everything was so easy! Dad had requested a wheelchair and we were taken straight to the First Class lounge. We hadn’t had breakfast so we sat in the restaurant. I had a cheese omelette and chicken sausages, and Mum and Dad both wanted smoked salmon. After breakfast, we moved to the lounge area. I read my book with a cup of tea, Mum went to the Duty Free shops and Dad played on his iPad.

We boarded the flight and got to Bombay without any problems. It wasn’t a long flight, but I was pretty tired when we landed. The cabin crew didn’t have any landing cards so we had to fill them in when we landed (what a waste of time) and it was a really long walk from the plane to Immigration! Our luggage was out in a matter of minutes and we got in our Emirates car and took Dad straight to the hospital. Dad was admitted that evening and Mum decided she’d stay there with him so she could meet the doctors when they did their rounds early in the morning. My grandmother also joined us there and I went home with her when she left.

My mum’s two sisters-in-law were also staying at home. I hadn’t seen one in seven years and the other in four years. They’d moved into one room so that there would be space for my brother (S) (when he arrived) and me. One of my aunts was moving into her daughter’s place the next day as she was babysitting her grandchildren while their parents were away. So I had a room to myself for a couple of nights, which was nice!

I hadn’t been to India in five years. It seemed more crowded – more traffic, more people in the streets, more car horns (which drove me nuts).

The first two days were spent going from the house to the hospital. On Monday and Tuesday I had lunch at the hospital with my parents and would go home in the evening with my grandmother when she came to visit my dad.

On Tuesday night, my mum and I went to pick up S from the airport. He’d had a really long journey – Kingston to Miami to London to Bombay. He left Kingston early on Monday morning and got to Bombay late on Tuesday night. We dropped my mum off at the hospital on our way home and were surprised to find my grandmother waiting up for us. It was after 1am but she hadn’t seen S since his wedding. By the time I fell asleep it was after 2.30am.

Dad had his surgery on Wednesday morning and once he was in the recovery room there was no point in us hanging around. Mum, S and I went to Royal China for a late lunch. The food was excellent – we had hot and sour soup, char siu pau, prawn and chive dumplings, har gau, char siu cheung fun and a couple of other things. It was so good. After that I just wanted to take a nap. My mum, grandmother and I went back to the hospital to visit Dad in the ICU. S had passed out and when we tried to wake him he told us go without him. An hour later, while we were at the hospital S sent me a text: ‘Where are you?’ At the hospital, I replied. ‘Why didn’t you wake me??’ Err, we did!

We were at the hospital on Thursday when one of my mum’s cousins invited us to the National Sports Club of India (NSCI) for lunch. We had lunch at their Maharaja restaurant – they do Indian and Chinese food and we ordered a bit of both. The food was really good. After lunch, my cousin took us on a tour of the facilities – the place is huge! Tennis, swimming, squash, table tennis, it’s all there. They also have the largest gym in Mumbai – there were at least fifteen treadmills along one wall. It wasn’t very crowded either – but I guess it was 4pm so not peak time yet. After lunch we went back to the hospital to see Dad for a while.

Dad was discharged from hospital on Friday so while they were getting his paperwork in order, S and I went to Crossword at Kemp’s Corner to do some book shopping. I bought eight books (just what I need!) and S bought a few too. When we were done, we called our parents to see whether they were ready to leave. Mum said Dad was having a nap and that we should have lunch there. Just a few doors away from Crossword we found a restaurant called Pizza Metro Pizza. S ordered the ‘Diavola’ (mozzarella, tomato, salami, basil, mushrooms and chilli) and I had the ‘Capricciosa’ (mozzarella, tomato, ham, salami, black olives and mushrooms). Just as we were finishing our coffees, my mum called to say they would pick us up on the way home. Perfect timing!

We got home and hung around for a while. As both my parents were home, there was no space for all of us so S and I had booked a room at the Trident Hotel at Nariman Point. We checked in on Friday afternoon, unpacked and relaxed for a while. On the 30th floor, you could hardly hear the traffic and car horns. And the view from our room was spectacular.

2015-09-04 18.28.56

On Friday night two of my cousins took me out for dinner. We went to Indigo Deli in Colaba for dinner and had to wait for a table. We eventually got one and ordered some wine and food. We shared a starter – cheese and spinach souffle. For my main course I had the ravioli with salmon and artichokes. One of my cousins had the chicken Sloppy Joe and the other had a steak (I thought beef was banned in Maharashtra??). The food was really good and we were too full for dessert. After dinner, I went to meet S and a friend at Dome, at the top of the Intercontinental Hotel on Marine Drive. We had a bottle of wine and sat there for the longest time. The place was empty, the music was too loud and having a false roof on top of an open air bar just isn’t right (whether or not it’s monsoon season). We didn’t get back to the hotel until 3am.

I woke up on Saturday feeling so tired. S and I went home for lunch and to hang out with the family. That evening S decided to stay in and I went to our friend’s place for drinks. He’d invited a couple of other friends whom I knew so it was nice to catch up with them after a long time. After drinks at his place we went to Aer at the Four Seasons. I’m sure it’s a beautiful place but, again, with the false roof it was hot and muggy (my hair looked like Diana Ross’ hair when I left) and should really be called ‘No Aer’ during the monsoons. It’s also really expensive! One Belvedere with soda and one glass of white wine cost 2400 Indian Rupees (almost £24)! I bumped into a few friends from London who now live in Bombay so it was nice to see them. I didn’t get back to the hotel until 3.30am and I was exhausted.

I love my life.

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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.

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Silent Sunday

2013-09-18 18.06.12

Silent Sunday

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