Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

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.

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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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Dubai 2015: Weeks 52/53

I got back from Bali on the 23rd morning. Similar to when I left, the passengers had to get on a bus after leaving the plane and were then taken to the terminal. I stood at the top of the stairway at 5am and was hit by a blast of cold air. I got on the bus, found a seat and sat down because I was feeling tired and lazy. Just as well, because the bus ride to the airport took forever. It felt like we were going around the airport in circles. I felt like one of the hostages in the movie Speed. We finally got to the terminal, I went through the e-Gate, collected my luggage, bought five bottles of champagne at Duty Free and went home. I was so happy to be home, and back in my own bed. I’d missed my pillows! I passed out for a few hours until lunch.

That evening, a friend had invited a few people over for mulled wine and mince pies. We got to her place in The Springs at about 7pm. It was nice to see everyone after my trip, and we sat out in the garden, sipping wine and chatting. I left at around 9.30pm – I was exhausted and a bit jet-lagged.

On Thursday, I went to the Dubai Mall – I needed a Secret Santa present for Christmas lunch the next day. Once I’d picked that up I went back home. I had a load of work to do and was starting to panic about how I was going to get it all done before the deadlines. I stayed in that night.

I spent Christmas Day with some friends at their flat in Business Bay. I got there at around 2pm and we had lunch at 4pm. It was also my fourth anniversary of being in Dubai – I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone!

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There was so much food! Prawn cocktail to start with, and then turkey, pork shoulder, roast potatoes, stuffing, brussel sprouts, pigs in blankets, and I’m sure there was more that I can’t remember. There was Christmas pudding and cheese for dessert. Not to mention the prosecco, champagne and wine that we all enjoyed. The weather was lovely too – and we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening sitting on their balcony, watching the full moon move across the sky (and watching random YouTube music videos).

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I got home at around 11pm. It was a long day, but it was really fun.

I went to the Dubai Mall on Saturday as I was meeting some friends at Vogue Cafe in the Shoe District for tea.

On Sunday, I decided to try out a new yoga studio at Village Mall. It was really nice and I ended up buying a package for 15 classes.

I had my usual piano lesson on Monday, but that was all I did that day. All I’d been doing otherwise was working. I’d hoped that as my UK clients were closed for the holidays, there’d be no more work coming in over the holidays and I could catch up properly, but I didn’t realise that their Indian offices would still be open and send me things to work on! It was good though – I kept my head down and got on with it.

I’d been invited out for lunch on Tuesday. I wasn’t keen on going but I had some friends visiting Dubai who would be at lunch so I went anyway. Lunch was at Apres in Mall of the Emirates. I got there at 1pm (which was the time on the invitation) and there was nobody there, not even the two hosts. There was also no table set up for 10-12 people so I asked the waitress at the door whether they had a booking under either of the hosts’ names. ‘For today, ma’am?’ Well, yes, I’m here, aren’t I? She looked in her diary. ‘Oh yes, 1pm for 12 people.’ So, where is the table? ‘Oh, we didn’t know if they wanted smoking or non-smoking.’ You have the number there so why didn’t you call to confirm? ‘Yes, ma’am.’ The woman was irritating. But what irritated me more was that the hosts should have been dealing with the lack of a table and not me. I got the table sorted and sat down. I asked the waiter for a bottle of water (which never arrived). At about 1.15pm one of the hosts arrived – she’d had errands to run in the mall which was why she was late. Good grief – couldn’t she have done that later? Anyway, people started arriving – we were nine girls in the end – and lunch seemed to go on forever. The service was awful. I would never go back there. At 4pm I made my excuses and left – the others seemed quite happy to sit there for longer but I had s*** to do!

I had a session with Pete on Wednesday and spent the rest of the day working.

On Thursday morning I went back to Eco Yoga Sanctuary for a Hatha Flow class. After that I decided to get my  hair done as I looked like a homeless person after the yoga class. It was also New Year’s Eve and I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do that night. My number one choice was to stay home. I’d been invited to a few places but I couldn’t face the thought of the traffic going Downtown and then getting stuck there until 4am. I could see it building up from the afternoon onwards.

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I ended up staying home. And I’m glad I did because soon after I’d had dinner, I saw a post on Facebook that said the Address Downtown was on fire. What?? I’d been hearing sirens for the last 10 minutes but assumed it was regular New Year’s Eve police controlling the traffic. I thought it was a hoax and then I checked Twitter. I couldn’t believe the pictures I was seeing.

Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

I felt sick – there were hundreds of thousands of people in that small area – and I couldn’t imagine how many people would be injured. I kept reading that there were no injuries but I just couldn’t believe that. Eventually, it was reported that there were 14 minor injuries – a bit more realistic, but still unbelievable in a way. I hoped everyone had managed to get out of that building in time. And then I heard that they were planning to go ahead with the fireworks Downtown. Next to a burning building? It seemed ludicrous. And people were still heading Downtown. Friends called from London and other places to see if I was OK – WhatsApp had stopped working!

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At about 10 minutes before midnight I made my way to the pool area of my building to watch the fireworks. The crazy thing I’ve noticed about people on New Year’s Eve is that wherever they are on Sheikh Zayed Road, they’ll abandon their cars and run to where they can see the Burj Khalifa and watch the fireworks. It’s like watching a disaster movie, although instead of running from disaster, they’re running towards the fireworks!

23:55 on New Year's Eve

23:55 on New Year’s Eve

And then it was midnight. The Address Downtown was still on fire (but under control, they said) and the Burj Khalifa lit up.

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It was bizarre. The fireworks went on for about 5 minutes – I brought in the New Year watching the smoke from the fireworks drift off into the night like dancing skeletons, with the smoke from the Address Downtown streaming behind it.

I’m so glad I stayed in.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 49

I spent all of Sunday at home, enjoying the last day of quiet before my parents got back from their trip.

They were home by 8am on Monday morning. I had a session with Pete on Monday morning and a piano lesson that afternoon. I went home after that and carried on with some work.

I had some errands to run at Mercato on Tuesday but apart from that, I was at home.

Wednesday was busy. I had another session with Pete. We had our session outside even though the gym is finally finished! That afternoon I had my hair coloured and cut, which seemed to take forever.

On Wednesday evening I had Christmas dinner at The Scene in Pier 7, behind Marina Mall. There were 12 of us seated at a long table. I think it was the first turkey dinner I’d had since I moved to Dubai almost four years ago. I started with the smoked salmon starter and then had the roast turkey and trimmings for my main course. I didn’t have dessert. After a few more drinks, everyone was planning where to go to next, but I decided to go home as I knew I had a busy day the next day and still had some work to finish off.

I think the concept of having seven different bars and restaurants in one place is great, but it could have been planned better. There are three lifts which stop at all seven floors and waiting for them is just annoying. Leaving Pier 7 is also pretty awful. We waited for a taxi and then eventually decided to walk up to the main road. It must have taken us almost 20 minutes to get a cab – there weren’t many around that evening, and those that were around and available weren’t even stopping.

A friend of mine (R) arrived from London on Thursday morning and was staying at the Fairmont on Sheikh Zayed Road. We’d arranged to meet at the sports bar just off the lobby of the Fairmont at noon, but I was running late and got there at 12.30pm. R had a pint and I had some water. He’d booked a table at Okku for lunch so we walked there from the Fairmont. It was empty – there were only two other tables apart from ours. We ordered some water and a bottle of cold sake (which I can’t believe we finished!). We shared two starters and two main courses: we had the spicy tuna on crispy rice and the beef tataki, and for our main course we had the Chilean sea bass and lamb cutlets with the truffle fried rice. All the food was excellent.

After lunch, R had a meeting and I had some errands to run but we arranged to meet at the sports bar at the Fairmont later on. I did my errands, packed my suitcase and was at the Fairmont by 6pm. A friend of R’s joined us as well and we had a few drinks. We started with a mojito, then switched to a vodka tonic, and then had a shot of whiskey for the road with a beer chaser. I’m so glad I went home after that. I was surprisingly sober and had dinner with my parents and finished off my packing.

I left for the airport at 6.45am on Friday morning. I checked in my bag, picked up a copy of The Economist and a book and went to the gate. Well, the gate consisted of a waiting room where we were then taken by bus to the plane. The journey on the bus took so long I wondered if we were being driven to Bali. I had a window seat and I didn’t think the flight would be crowded. Sure enough when they closed the doors, I had two empty seats next to me. After breakfast was served, I stretched out for the first half of the flight and managed to sleep, and then read and watched two movies for the rest of the flight.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 48

I was a bit of a recluse this week. I had one of my most relaxing weeks ever. I was home all day on Sunday.

I had a session with Pete on Monday morning and a piano lesson that afternoon. After my piano lesson, I had a facial at Dermalogica at the Dubai Mall. I’d run out of Entertainer vouchers but they offer 25% off on Mondays – so I always try and book on a Monday! I went home after that and carried on with some work.

My parents left for Tenerife early on Tuesday morning, at about 4am – and I didn’t leave the house until Friday afternoon, apart from to go to the gym. Tuesday and Wednesday were wet and grey, and I felt quite cosy at home.

Seriously though – I would wake up, go to the gym, come home, shower and get back into fresh pajamas. It was amazing. I’d either work or read in bed. The flat was so quiet. I even stayed in on Thursday night!

The weather has definitely cooled down a lot, which means there are clouds almost every day, which means there are amazing sunsets almost every evening.

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On Friday, some friends and I went over to another friend’s place on the Palm. We got there at around 4.30 pm and the four of us sat outside, sipping chilled champagne. There was a beautiful sunset.

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Another couple joined us later on and we ordered some Lebanese food for dinner and then toasted marshmallows on the open fire. It was actually a bit chilly once the sun had gone down. Just before midnight, I thought it was time to go home – my two other friends had left earlier as they had work the next day, and the other couple were leaving too. I booked an Uber, which was 20 minutes away. About 10 minutes later, I checked my Uber app to see where the car was, only to find that the driver had cancelled the journey and that there was now a price surge of 2.8x. The cheek! I didn’t rebook – we decided to have another drink instead. A few minutes later, the Uber driver called me to say he was outside. He asked me if I’d cancelled the journey – I said I hadn’t, and that he had. Anyway, I told him I’d managed to get a lift and didn’t need the car. So my friend and I had another drink and then we thought it would be a good idea to do some karaoke! It was 2.30am by the time I left his place – we were having such a laugh, singing along to old 80s songs.

On Saturday I went to the New Orleans Jazz Brunch at Imperium at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. I’d been to their regular Friday brunch in February 2013, and had been wanting to go back. We had a lovely table outside – and we ordered some drinks to start with. The food was more or less the same as the Friday brunch – although the last time we were there they had fresh lobster and fresh salmon on the outside grill, this time they had fresh prawns. The spread inside consisted of everything: a seafood table, salads, beef Wellington, roast lamb, oysters, mussels, a pork section, scrambled eggs with truffles, cheeses and a huge variety of dessert. The food was fresh and tasty – although the beef Wellington was chewy and a bit disappointing. I skipped dessert and had a variety of cheese instead. I have to say that even though the choice of food is fantastic and the ambiance is lovely, the service is a real letdown. And I remembered that from last time too. But that seems to be a problem in most places in Dubai – first-world prices and third-world service. We had two Entertainer vouchers for brunch, so we each ended up paying AED260. Not bad for all you can eat and drink!

I think the hotel itself is stunning and every time I’ve been there I’m so tempted to check in for a week!

The chandelier in the lobby of the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

The chandelier in the lobby of the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

It was 6pm by the time I got home as we hit traffic on the way back. I got into my pajamas and chilled for the rest of the evening. Perfect.

I love my life.

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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 43

After the gym on Sunday morning I met up with a friend for an early lunch. We went to Tasha’s and got a table without having to wait – it was about noon by the time we got there. We sat down and decided to share the quinoa salad and the penne with mushrooms. Both were very good but I thought the pasta could have been a little less oily. We were there for a while as we hadn’t seen each other in ages and it was about 2.30pm by the time I got back home. I was home for the rest of the day.

On Monday morning I had a session with Pete and later that afternoon I had a piano lesson. My dad arrived from Bombay that evening – he’d been there since the end of August, when we all went together for his medical treatment. The house had been so quiet for so long – and now it was back to CNN and dodgy Indian channels at full volume!

I went to the gym earlyish on Tuesday morning. On my way home, I was rummaging through my handbag and couldn’t find my keys. I was pretty sure I’d taken them with me and thought I’d have a proper look once I was outside the flat. As I approached our front door I saw my keys hanging there. Crap! I’d locked the door from the outside and then left the keys there. Anyone could have picked them up and walked off with them. And if anything had happened on the inside, they wouldn’t have been able to open the door to get out.

After I’d had a cup of tea and showered, Ajay (our cook/housekeeper) and I went to Lulu for the weekly shop. It’s not the most exciting couple of hours of my week, I can tell you. I’m waiting for the driver to come back from his (ridiculously long) holiday so that I can send the two of them together!

Apart from my session with Pete on Wednesday morning I did nothing but catch up with work.

On Thursday night I met up with a friend from Lagos who was in town. He’d booked a table at La Petite Maison and I’d been looking forward to it all week. He’s vegetarian though, so everything we ordered was vegetarian. To start with we ordered the burrata, the lentil salad and the scrambled eggs with truffles. For our main course we shared the risotto with goats cheese, the gnocchi and the dauphinoise potatoes. I thought the gnocchi was bland, but the risotto and potatoes were fantastic. We shared the cheesecake for dessert.

After dinner, we went to White Dubai at Meydan. My friend had been invited to a party and took me as his ‘plus one’. I’d never been to White Dubai – what a place! The music was so good – and I wish I’d taken a photo of the view of Sheikh Zayed Road and the Burj Khalifa from there. Our hosts had a huge section to themselves which was nice. I even knew a few people there. I got home at around 3am.

I was tired on Friday and spent the day in my pajamas. Well, until 6pm anyway, when I decided I had to get ready if I was going to be on time to meet my friends for drinks and dinner. I met a couple of girlfriends at Fai at the Palace Downtown. We had a drink and then had dinner next door at Thiptara. We ordered a lot of prawns as one of my friends eats only seafood. For our starters we ordered the papaya salad and the deep fried prawns with hot chilli sauce. For our main course, we shared the phad thai, stir fried prawns with basil and chilli, and we ordered a red curry with prawns. We also ordered a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

Everything was fine, but when they brought us our main course, they brought us a green curry with prawns. They were very apologetic and eventually brought us what we’d ordered. They also gave us complimentary sorbets for dessert.

While the food was good, the service was terrible. There were only two waiters in the whole restaurant and getting their attention was not easy. It was Friday night and the restaurant was full – so two waiters really didn’t do the job!

After dinner I went to meet some other friends and left my two girlfriends at Fai. They later told me that the staff were still feeling bad about getting our order wrong and gave them a complimentary drink as well!

I was in high heels so luckily my friends picked me up from the Palace lobby and we decided to go to the Nippon Bottle Company at the Dusit Thani. I’d heard a lot about this place and had been wanting to go there. It’s just to the left of the lobby at the Dusit Thani, but the entrance is rather deceiving. Four of us managed to get a table and ordered some drinks. I thought it would be best if I stuck to wine, but the others had Kamikazes (I’ve only ever seen these as shots so it was weird seeing these served in tall glasses).

We each had two drinks and decided to join some of my other friends who were at La Cantine du Faubourg at the Emirates Towers Hotel. It was after midnight and the place was packed! I managed to find my friends and we hung out with them the rest of the night. By 2am I couldn’t take the pain any more and took my shoes off. I knew that putting the back on would be hell but by then I didn’t care! I left at about 2.30 with my neighbours and we came home…

I got out of bed on Saturday at about noon. All I wanted to do was sleep. And have a foot massage. I did neither. But I did spend the day in my pajamas, which was perfect!

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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