Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai: Week 10

I woke up on Sunday morning to another sandstorm. There was no way I was leaving the house with all that dust outside – I’m convinced that’s what made me sick to start with! On Sunday afternoon I received a call from Dubai Bank. It was a courtesy call – what did I think of the procedure for opening a new account? Simple. How did I hear about them? There’s a branch under my building. Was I happy with my account? Well, it’s only been one day so ask me in a month.

On Monday morning I had another call from the bank. Actually it was Aramex telling me my debit card was ready and would be delivered the following day. Wow – they weren’t kidding when they said it would take three days. I have to admit I had my doubts. I had a yoga class on Monday morning – my first ‘exercise’ in 10 days. It was fine apart from a slight coughing fit after being in shoulderstand. I was home the rest of the day, working. 

On Wednesday I had a training session with Rama, did some work, and then went to watch the tennis with my cousin. While we were there I was given the option of coffee or alcohol. I chose coffee. I think that was the first time that’s ever happened. I bitterly regretted it when I was tossing and turning at 2am, unable to sleep. Always choose alcohol, I told myself. Always.

After the tennis, we went to a restaurant called Lemongrass near Lamcy Plaza. They were quite busy and we hadn’t made a reservation but managed to get a table. My cousin had a voucher which gave us one main course for free – so our meal of green chicken curry, steamed fish with ginger and soya sauce, rice, water and a soft drink cost us Dhs 77 (just over £13). Bargain!

On Thursday I had another yoga class and then met up with a friend for coffee. We went to Paul at Mall of the Emirates. We walked around for a while afterwards – she wanted to go to Crate and Barrel so I went with her. Shopping for household items really doesn’t interest me much but some of the things they sold in the store were fascinating. Not fascinating because I would want something like that, but fascinating because who buys all these things? Strawberry hullers, grapefruit knives, bagel knives, and so on. I have to admit that if I did cook I would want one of their garlic presses… After that my friend wanted to go to Carrefour. That’s where I drew the line and headed home.

On Friday we had lunch at Sakura at the Crowne Plaza Hotel with my cousin, her mum and kids. They do a special Friday lunch offer for AED170 (about £30) which includes salads, sushi and sashimi, tempura, teppanyaki and dessert. It doesn’t include drinks but is still great value for money. After that I really fancied a coffee at Gloria Jean’s which was a short walk away. They were closed when we got there! I was so disappointed – they close for the afternoon on Fridays. Surely that’s when they’d be busiest?? Dad and I decided we’d go to Mercato Mall and have a coffee there instead. We thought about seeing a movie that night but by the time we got home we were both feeling too lazy to do anything.

We’d been meaning to get a TV for Joy’s room – just so she’d have something to do in her free time and not get so bored. On Saturday we went to Harman House on Sheikh Zayed Road to see what they had. We chose a TV but didn’t buy it as the technician needs to come and check that the points in her room work. We haven’t told her about the TV so hopefully it will be a nice surprise for her when it arrives! 

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Anyone for tennis?

On Wednesday my cousin and I went to watch the tennis at the Aviation Club Tennis Centre. The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships were on and my cousin managed to get us some tickets. We got there at about 4.30 – the Djokovic/Stakhovsky match had just started and we managed to find some seats. I’d seen Djokovic play last summer at The Boodles tournament in Stoke Park. Sadly he didn’t do any impressions this time!

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Djokovic won. It was only 5.45 and the next game wasn’t due to start until 7pm. The lady next to us offered to hold our seats for us while we went to get something to drink. ‘Coffee or a pint?’ my cousin asked. ‘Coffee,’ I replied, without really thinking about it. WTF? I turned down alcohol for coffee? Clearly I was still sick. We went to Costa and then walked around for a while.

We got back to our seats a little before 7pm. The next game was Lopez v Federer and the arena was packed.

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Federer won… but Lopez’s serves were incredible. If I saw a tennis ball hurtling towards me at 218 kph I would get out of the way!

We left the stadium and tried to get a cab on the main road. Several empty cabs went past us but didn’t stop. We eventually realised it was because there was a police car parked right there and they weren’t allowed to stop. A policeman called us over and we thought he was going to tell us off for being in the wrong place but he hailed a cab for us and sent us on our way!  

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The Boodles – almost a washout!

I was invited to celebrate the 25th anniversary of one of our suppliers, Air Business, at The Boodles in Stoke Park. The Boodles is an exclusive tennis tournament sponsored by Boodles, Patek Philippe, Jaguar and Pommery – you just know it's going to be a glamorous event:

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My day didn't start well – it was raining hard so I had to completely re-think what I was going to wear (and obviously didn't bode well for any live tennis later), the rain led to traffic and I missed my train, and then I had a 20-minute wait at Slough station waiting for the shuttle to Stoke Park. There were a few other people waiting for the shuttle so we got to talking and the time seemed to pass fairly quickly.

It was raining even harder by the time we got to the grounds. The champagne reception was held in The Boodles Gallery where the jewellery was being exhibited – it was too crowded to see much at this point, but I went back later and had a good look! The intention was to spill out onto the patio where there were tables and seating areas, but this didn't happen because of the rain. Amazingly, about 20 minutes later there was glorious sunshine and it stayed that way almost until the end of the day!

After having our glasses constantly refilled for over an hour, it was definitely time to eat. Lunch was served in The Player's Enclosure – a three-course meal, wine, coffee – there was a lot to eat! We had a seafood starter – sea trout tartare and gravadlax with a potato and broad bean salad, the main course was grilled chicken with chorizo, pomme puree and thyme jus, and dessert was a collection of mini tropical deserts – mango, lime and mascarpone panna cotta, coconut and lemongrass sorbet, caramelised lemon and passion tart and some pineapple thing (which I didn't like – I'm not a huge pineapple fan)… While we were having dessert, David Ferrer came up on the stage and answered a few (very odd) questions from the audience, such as: Could you beat Serena Williams in an arm wrestle? Where can I find you on a Friday night? Who do you think is the Ryan Giggs of tennis (he didn't answer this one)? Where would Serena Williams rank in men's tennis (I don't understand the fixation with Serena)? And you get the gist!

After lunch we headed out to the centre court – I was surprised at how intimate it felt. I was two rows from the court, and this should give you some idea of how close I was to Djokovic and Simon:

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And Nalbandian:

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And Nalbandian and Gasquet:

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I don't need to tell you that the champagne was still flowing, throughout the matches. After the Djokovic/Simon game, Djokovic entertained the crowd with his brilliant impression of Maria Sharapova playing tennis!

After the Nalbandian/Gasquet game, we went back to the Player's Enclosure for tea and scones (and more champagne).

We finally left Stoke Park at about 7pm, some in worse shape than others! All in all, it was a fantastic day out – and if you can afford it, you should go!! 
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