Thursday 31 January 2013


This week hasn't been one of my best. I've had this revolting cough that wakes me up and leaves me gasping for air. The kids have been out of sorts and not wanting to go to school. Nothing terrible, but just not great. Just plodding along to the finish line of the weekend.

Then yesterday, I was driving through a car park when some one decided to reverse out of a spot just as I was going past them. They jumped out of the car asking why I hit them? I asked why they reversed into my car? In Dubai, police have to be called for every single accident, no matter how small. So we waited in virtual silence, both looking at our cars and shaking our heads. The police arrived and got each of our stories, the cars had not been moved. The police then do their report and hand the at fault party a red copy and the other person a green copy. Thankfully, I was handed the green and the other person got the red and a traffic violation.

This all happened on the way to school pick up, thankfully my friend waited with the girls until I got there. Darbs was non-plussed about the whole event.

Last night, I felt exhausted after the adrenalin had worn off. That hollow tired feeling. And that moment when you know your car is going to be hit kept replaying in my mind and in my dreams. I kept thinking 'why did I go to that part of the car park?' stupid thoughts, but there nonetheless. I look at my poor car this morning and felt ill.

Oh well.

Today hasn't been much better, but that means things have to improve doesn't it? Thank god, it's the weekend.

Monday 28 January 2013

Foggy mornings and rainbow afternoons

For the past week, thick fog has swallowed up Dubai most mornings. It's really quite eerie and can sometimes last until lunchtime. The whiteout has caused chaos at the airport and on the roads. Especially when people drive with their hazard lights on, like it provides them with some sort of forcefield of safety. People, hazard lights aren't for fog!

We woke to yet another foggy morning today and many people have told me that it's signaling a change in the weather and that the temps will soon start to rise again. I can't believe winter is almost over with it's blissful mid-20 degree days.

Yesterday afternoon, like a tonic for the grey mornings, the kids took down some chalk to the playground. Within minutes there was a rainbow of colour and they were swarmed by other kids wanting to join the fun. It's amazing how something as simple as chalk can get a bunch of kids so excited and inspired. They drew rainbows and family portraits and hopscotch and ABCs. We came home covered in chalk dust but looking and feeling colourful.

Stopped at traffic lights, not sure what's on the other side!

Taken right out the front of Dubai's landmark Burj Al Arab. Can you see it? No? Neither could I.
On a normal day you can see it for miles around the city. 

Sunday 27 January 2013

Dazed in the dunes

We've just finished up a long weekend in the UAE (for the Prophet's Birthday), which is going to be the last public holiday for a very long stretch.

The weather is still blissfully cool, but over the weekend I felt a change. A subtle change, but a change none the less. It's staying lighter a little later and the sun in warming up. While it's beautiful, I can't help but feel a little afraid of what's coming.

To make the most of this top weather while we can, we went out to the desert with some friends for a BBQ. We drove about 30 minutes from home pulled up next to some dunes and climbed over to set up a little base.

The kids were in heaven running up the dunes and sliding down on boards. Darbs toddled around. The men took the 4WDs for a bash on the dunes (and got a little stuck at times). A small group went for a hike and found a camel skeleton. I sat and soaked it all in, in between chasing kids, munching lunch and chatting and laughing.

The more time I spend amongst the soft dunes the more I fall in love with it. The silence, the way the light hits the sand, the silky softness of the ultra fine sand, the fact that you may stumble upon a camel at any time.

I don't think my kids have had a more fun day. When we climbed in the car to come home they were caked with sand and exhaustion.

I still have to pinch myself that I live here. In the Middle East. With sand dunes and camels and endless blue skies.

I can't wait to get out there and do it again. I know if and when we leave, these are going to be the memories that are etched on all of our minds. How lucky are we?!

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Can't stop progress

Skip often says to me: "You can't stop progress." Sometimes as a joke, sometimes serious, sometimes just to fill a silence as I think he just likes saying it.

There has been so much change in our lives of late. The obvious change of moving overseas and all that entails, but also more subtle changes in the family dynamic as the kids grow and mature. Some of it wonderful, some of it difficult and tiresome.

Skip and I have been together for more than 15 years, which for a young pup (ha!) as myself, is a pretty long time. I'm definitely not the same person as I was when we met, and neither is he. Thankfully, we've managed to grow with each other and (mostly) still like each other's traits - I know my antics in the kitchen and my snoring drive him crazy and probably always will.

We were sitting on the couch last night and I looked at Skip and something really hit me. In the past few months he's really soaked up all this change. He's been so open to it and is enjoying it. I've loved seeing him do things he wouldn't ordinarily do, try new things, socialise with people of different ages and backgrounds and talk passionately about topics he would have glossed over in the past. He even ate Indian food with his hands, like they traditionally do. That's a big thing for him and his messy food issues (see kitchen antics above) and I so wish I was a fly on the wall at that lunch!

Looking at him last night, made me realise that I was more in love with him for it (and not just the hand-eating Indian part, I'm not that odd). I realised that change is often good and it can turn a decent relationship into an even better one. I'm glad I'm not that 21-year-old I was when I met him. I'm glad that you can't stop progress.

Saturday 19 January 2013

Cold snap

It's mid-winter now in Dubai. So, what does that mean? It means lots of outside time - picnics, playing in the park, alfresco eating, going to the beach at midday, exploring the desert, walking just plain old walking outside. All the stuff that's impossible in summer. It means turning off the air con and escaping the prison of our home and the mall. All in all, it's fairly blissful.

This week, though, there's been a cold snap. It's been windy and the mornings have been cold - jeans and jumper cold. It's quite odd and every time I step outside I'm surprised by the goosebumps that quickly pop up. By lunchtime, it's warm enough to shed a few layers and soak in the sun. In fact the weather kind of reminds me of Sydney in the autumn, clear crisp days, cool breeze but warm in the sun. Endless blue skies.

There has been a slight over reaction though, you see people in gloves and scarves and big jackets, looking like they're ready for a Melbourne winter day. Stuff I wouldn't even wear in a Sydney winter.

I've enjoyed pulling on my trackies in the evening and getting inside to warm up. It's a nice change and I know it won't last long, so we're soaking it up. Before we know it we'll be looking at months and months of 40 plus temperatures and being locked inside. The summers are long, harsh and unrelenting, no southerly busters in Dubai to bring relief.

Yesterday morning, as I looked at my iPhone weather app I could have been forgiven for thinking that Sydney and Dubai got their forecasts mixed up.

What's you perfect temperature?

Thursday 17 January 2013

The haggis and the tux

I don't know what it is, but each time Skip and I attempt to go out in Dubai nothing quite goes to plan.

On Monday evening, Skip called from work and asked if I'd be keen to go to a Burns Supper on Wednesday night - haggis, whiskey and bagpipes. Why not? Part of my get out and meet people plan.

Wednesday rolled around, I asked Skip if we'd be fed at the supper and he assured me we would. The afternoon arrived, organising the kids after school and preparing to go out when I receive an email from Skip. The formal invite for the evening, which stated it was a black tie event. Crap.

So, due to leave the house in three hours we some how had to procure some evening ware. Skip said that a colleague had mentioned a store that had tuxedos on sale, I called to checked and had this conversation:

Me: hello, do you sell tuxedos?
Shop assistant: sorry? I don't understand.
Me: do you have tuxedos?
Him: yes, you can get a taxi here.
Me: no! A tuxedo. Black suit, bow tie.
Him: we have a couple of ties.
Me: what about suits?
Him: no, no suits.

Precious time ticking away, I hung up and told Skip he'd have to work something out. So in between a meeting and a very big presentation he went to the mall and bought a tux, 75% off. They were even going to tailor it for him, it would be ready at 7pm, when we were due to arrive at the event.

In the meantime, I'd read a further email confirming the supper details and it said women could wear cocktail dresses. Phew, I had no full length evening gown but I could pull out a cocktail dress, no problem.

Skip arrive at 650 to pick me up, we dashed to the mall to get his tux and then we fanged it to Sheik Zayed rd, which was a car park. We crawled to the hotel and pulled up at 750pm. Skip throwing his new tux on in the carpark. We ran in huffing and puffing expecting to make an embarrassing entrance to find they were running late and only just seating people for dinner.

We soaked in the food, the wine and the conversation. We listened to bagpipes and poetry. We celebrated the haggis. Our first black tie event was a success, eventually.

It was worth the last minute dash. Men look 10 times more attractive when wearing a tux. Many men scoff at this but it's true. Don't believe me? It's film award season, check out the lads at the Oscars...

Tuesday 15 January 2013

The (futile) pursuit of happiness

Do you ever feel that you're constantly being told that being "happy" is the secret to life? That as long you're happy, then nothing else matters. I do. I also think it's a load of crap and a huge amount of pressure that we'll never live up to. I've written about this before a few times.

I know so many people who live their lives (and I've been guilty of it too) thinking that when 'x' happens they'll be happy. Whether it's when they get that job, reach a number on the scales, buy the perfect house, find the perfect partner.

One, I don't believe that happiness is the secret of life. I don't think it's possible to find the mystical 'true' happiness, I believe it's a bit of a dangling carrot. I believe that there's 'happiness' in every small thing we do each day if you choose to look.

Travelling and living in Dubai has made me think that 'finding true happiness' is a first world luxury. The vast majority of the world live to survive. To put food in their families mouths. To put a roof over their head. If they're lucky, to give their children an education and a life slightly better than their own. Dubai is filled with people looking to make their lives better for themselves and for their families. You feel it in the air, it's a hunger and belief that things will be/can be better. From the CEOs of multinational corporations to the blue-garbed labourers.

I often look at the gardeners, the cleaners, the maids, the labourers and wonder if they're happy. Happy with their lives here in, what to me, is not the best of circumstances - to be away from your home and often to be away from your children for years at a time. I then wonder, if they wonder if they're happy. It's a little too much for my white, privileged mind to take in at times.

Then the thought of pursuing happiness, especially through a waist size or owning new toy, seems fairly ridiculous and futile. You may not be struck down with giddying happiness when you get what you think you want, in fact I'll go as far to say as you won't. Instead, think about what made you happy today, however small. A hot cup of tea. A cuddle with your kids. Hearing your favourite song on the radio. A laugh with your mates. A phone call with an old friend. In the end, this is what makes up the happiness of life.

What has made you happy today?

Sunday 13 January 2013

The social network

We just finished our first 'proper' weekend since before our trip to Austria. It's been a busy time with Christmas dos and visitors, so it was lovely just to potter and do weekend stuff. Movies, furniture shopping, stopping for coffee, a kid's birthday party, playing in the park - an average weekend.

Now that life is back to normal, it's time to work on our social situation again. Throw out some lines, put ourselves out there and set up a social network. By the end of the year, I felt pretty exhausted from small talk and being 'on' all the time. I felt like I was constantly making playdates and coffee catch ups and drinks plans and nothing really coming to fruit. So I took a break.

Funnily enough I've had a few invites this week - a playdate, a girls night of tapas & cocktails and a friend coming over for coffee and chat - so we're definitely not lacking. But it would be nice to expand the circle, meet and speak to people we wouldn't ordinarily meet. Find more like-minded friends, set up a fun and interesting group of friends. I think that would be healthy for us all. It won't happen overnight but it's good to plant the seeds.

I'm also planning some time just for me and Skip, because that's important too. First plan? Tickets for The Stone Roses!

Now to get online and look up some gourmet nights, playgroups and tennis clubs...

Friday 11 January 2013

Getting back on track

A week ago, while our mums were still here, Skip and I grabbed an opportunity to take a night away.

In the past five months, opportunities to spend time together without the kids had been very few and far between. Knowing the kids were in good hands, we booked into the Meydan Hotel, a stunning place with luxurious rooms and a lobby that had my eyes popping out of my head.

The part that thrilled Skip the most? The fact that our room's balcony overlooked the racecourse. The enormous grandstand at Meydan houses all the racing facilities plus a five-star hotel. Incredible!

Being able to watch the night races from your balcony was pretty spesh. In fact, you could probably watch them from the kingsize bed, which is about as good as it gets for Skip.

We ate at the restaurant - prawns & lobsters - watched the races, talked without being interrupted and ate without kids whining. The biggest difference between Aussie and Dubai races? The quiet, there was no cheering or whooping, it was quite eerie. After stuffing ourselves with seafood and the races over, we decided against another drink and a shisha and collapsed into the comfy bed instead.

The morning brought a breakfast buffet (I do love a breakkie buffet) and then back to bed for another snooze. Bliss.

The hotel has 24-hour check in, so you check out whatever time you checked in. Brilliant idea! And it gave us the whole day, no rushing to check out at 10am.

We made the most of the day and snoozed until it was time to head to the movies. The grandstand is so huge that there is an IMAX cinema in there too, so we went and watched Les Miserables which was great, even Skip enjoyed it.

Then it was finally time to head home. I actually started to miss the kids by then. Fifteen minutes at home in the chaos and it was all just a lovely memory.

The view from our private balcony.

Skip, pretty happy with our accommodation. 

  • The following morning.

This post was in no way or shape sponsored. Just wanted to share our wonderful 24 hours. 

Thursday 10 January 2013

And they're gone...

The best and worst part of living overseas? The visitors.

We've had our mums here for the past couple of weeks and it's been really nice. Just spending time and chatting. Being with people who know you well and you can relax with. It was wonderful to have their visit as something to look forward to, as well.

They left late last night. This morning, I've been tidying up the house. Getting it back to non-visitor state. Finding items that were left behind. It feels quiet, sad and a little lonely.

Even though, I love living here and don't want to return to Australia, it's sad saying goodbye. It's sad not having your loved ones nearby to call on at a moment's notice. Knowing that the kids will be bigger, older, different next time we see them.

I've spent the morning hoping they enjoyed themselves, that we didn't drive them too crazy, that I wasn't too moody, that we showed them a good time.

Today feels like going back to work or school after a long holiday. Having to get on with it, everything feeling a little different and strange. Knowing the normal routine needs to return, missing the holiday routine you created.

So while it's lovely having the moment where you reunite with family, the downside is that moment you have to say goodbye. It makes you miss your old friends and family just that little bit more. While I'm happy here, you do miss the comfort of old friendships and people who know you well. As time moves on and your out of sight, you hear just that little bit less from people too, which is normal but a little sad.

So this morning I'll mope for a little bit. Then I'll suck it up, laugh with some new friends this afternoon and look forward to a weekend spent with my little family of 5.

Gorgeous, scented blooms left behind as a thank you. 

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Only in Dubai - Part 4

I haven't done one of these for a while so I thought it was about time.

Only in Dubai....

* is shiny black marble considered a great flooring product. They love it. I don't, especially when a drop of water turns into an instant ice skating rink.

* is all-you-can-drink, free-flowing alcohol buffets the norm, yet I can't buy a bottle of wine to drink at a restaurant or a picnic.

* is there often a man at the parking lot boom gate to help you put the ticket in. It really is quite strenuous to reach across and do it yourself, you know.

* are the sunrises and sunsets so glorious each and every day.

* do I get called 'Madame' each and every day. 

* do you see Rolls Royces and Bentleys in the school car park. Or a Bugatti pull up to your apartment complex.

* is it OK to cross four lanes of traffic at the very last second to make your exit on a major road.

* will the leader send everyone a text message to say "Happy National Day"

* will you shiver, say 'it's a bit chilly' and put on a jumper when it's 25 degrees celsius.

* do you ask everyone you meet "Where are you from and how long are you here for?"

* can you buy an apartment and they'll throw in a new Audi for free.

* is a puddle a major traffic diversion.

Sunrise taken as I was dropping the girls at school. Ah-mazing.

Monday 7 January 2013

Old town snaps

For me, Dubai is a land of skyscrapers. Of glass and steel and marble. It's a place where you can injure yourself from craning your neck skyward and your jaw hitting the ground in wonder. In Dubai, bigger is always better and it's shiny all the way.

So, occasionally, it's nice to step back in time and see what this city was once like. Before oil. Before money. Before bling. There is a little pocket along the creek in Bur Dubai called Bastikiya. A fore-thinking Brit architect helped to save and preserve this area from bulldozers many years ago, and thank goodness for that. It's such a treat and pleasure to see what this once humble town was like.

Yesterday, I took our mums (and our kids) to wander the maze of tiny alleys and explore the heady scent of the spice shops, the colours of the art galleries and the exotic trinket stalls. Then we took in a traditional Emirati lunch and a talk by some Emirati people, sharing their culture and take on the world.

The winter sun had a bite, but the shade of buildings were goosebump cool. The light and shadow was very dramatic, just like the temperatures between the two. It was quiet and peaceful, contrasted by the bustle of the city nearby.

Light and shade.

Thursday 3 January 2013


Sitting in a hospital corridor, waiting to see a doctor and the sights, smells and sounds take me back to Darbs' birth.

The weeks I spent in hospital after his birth and then the months of weekly visits after that. Reception, urine, weight, blood pressure. Sitting in the waiting room, the bulging Manila folder weighing down my lap, my handbag rattling with all the tablets I was taking. Wondering, hoping this would be the last time and I'd get the all clear.

Right now, as I type this on my phone, I'm sitting in a hospital corridor. Thousands of kilometres away. I'm only getting a dodgy mole checked, but it's odd how those same sounds and smells can transport you back to a time and place. Back to an emotion.

The shuffle of rubber soles on lino. The clang of china on a trolley as it bumps down a corridor. The whisk of plastic curtain rings on metal. That pungent smell of antiseptic and handwash.

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Desert dwellers

Now the weather is cooler and the scorch of the sun has been replaced with a warm glow, we're getting outdoors much more. It's a treat to enjoy the sun at midday without fear of melting into a puddle on the ground. We're really loving discovering the beauty of the country away from the air conditioned shopping malls and man-made wonders. Both my and Skip's mum are visiting at the moment so we took them out to the desert (you don't have to go far to find it) to see the other side of Dubai. The kids had a ball climbing dunes and running and sliding in the silky soft sand. Soaking in the endless blue skies and horizons that stretch on forever.

Climbing dunes is tough work.

My childhood nickname of Rinny of Arabia has come true. 

Just in case we forget who's in charge.

I never tire of the incredible Middle Eastern sunsets.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...