Sunday 9 February 2014


Being an expat is an incredible experience. Getting to live in another country and soak up another culture is without doubt one of the best things I've ever done. There are just so many positives to the whole experience and we pinch ourselves almost daily that we get to do this.

Of course, nothing good comes without some form of sacrifice. In order to have this incredible experience we have to give up things - the main one being close to family and friends. This means that we also miss out on lots of milestones and big events. Living so far away means that quick trips home are out, no weekends here or there or visits every couple of months. It's Facebook and Skype to keep in touch and share moments with our Aussie friends and family.

I have to admit I don't really suffer from much homesickness though. I don't pine for Australia, like some other expats I know. Most of the time I'm happy where I am. Of course there are moments when I wish I could drop in on a friend or catch up with family. There are times when I look at Skip and know that what he needs more than anything at that moment is an afternoon at the pub filled with laughs with his best mates. Otherwise, life goes on happily and there are days when I think I'll never feel ready to return to Australia.

Then there are those times when it really hits just how far away we are. When I look at the kids and see how much they're growing up and how people are missing that. Last year, it was my Dad's 70th birthday and logistically and financially it was too hard to go back for the party. In the lead up I thought I was fine about missing it, but come the day and I see my Facebook feed fill up with photos and anecdotes and I start to feel sad. Forgotten and left out and just so far away. It's the sacrifice we make for all the other good stuff.

Over the weekend some good friends, in fact they're more like family, got engaged. Skip and I were beaming, we were just so happy and excited for them. We knew beforehand it was going to happen and we waited excitedly for the call. We laughed with them over Skype, oohed over the ring and talked about the what lies ahead. Then we clicked the hang up button. I think if someone had said right then, "Pack your bags, you're going home!" we would have jumped at the chance.

It's those moments that make you think: "Why are we doing this?" Sometimes it just seems crazy to be apart from friends and family and missing out on all this good stuff. It's part of the expat roller-coaster. Everyone I know who lives far from their homeland has those 'Why are we doing this?' moments. Then you shake them off and move on with your day.

I know without a doubt that we're right where we're meant to be. Hopefully it will make all those moments when we do catch up with our loved ones all the more special.

Friday 7 February 2014

Boys on bikes, men in lycra

I  had the kids at home all day with me yesterday. I'm getting used to these surprise days off as they've been happening a bit. On Wednesday night we got a text from the school saying they'd decided to close for the Dubai Tour (a cycle race) as they were worried about students being caught up in the traffic. So we stayed at home and waited for the boys on their bikes to scoot past.

We heard the sirens of the police first and we gathered on our balcony in wait. And we waited and we waited.

Lil-lil shouted: "They're here!"

"Sorry, Lil. That's just the mini-mart guy doing some deliveries," I replied.

Then finally a group flew past, a helicopter hovered over our heads and before we knew they were all gone. That was it. I don't know what I expected, but it was a bit of a disappointment really.

When Skip returned home that night, I assured him that I never wanted to see the Tour de France. France, yes. Bikes in France, no.

Cycling is a funny thing. I don't know if it's a new phenomenon but it seems to be the current choice of middle-aged males for their mid-life crisis. Sure, I know some young guys into it and some women, but there seems to be a lot of men who reach a certain age and the start to don some lycra and spend a lot of money and early hours on all things with two wheels.

More and more of my friends talk about their husbands foregoing an end-of-week glass of wine for getting up early and hitting the road on their new bikes (which can cost as much as a car). Then that night they're too tired from their crack-of-dawn ride, so retire early leaving a whole bottle for their wives to drink on their lonesome. My friends lament their husbands secretly spending up big at the cycling shop and spending all their free time dressed like 80s one-hit wonder Collette.

I had a friend who used worked in TV on the Tour de France and nick-named it "boys on bikes". It used to make me giggle. For a month every year she wouldn't be able to come out as 'the boys on bikes are back'. I have that someone who takes up cycling as their mid-life crisis is called a Mamil (middle-aged man in lycra) – a name I adore.

It seems the Mamil likes to take a big bike ride on a weekend morning and then clog up a trendy cafe afterwards, blinding poor unsuspecting coffee shop patrons with their lurid lycra. It's the same in Dubai as it is in Sydney. I had hoped that the lycra might be flouting some decency law here in the Middle East, but apparently they manage to slip past any such rules.

So, it seems the Mamil is here to stay. I can only hope when the time comes, that Skip chooses a sports car over a bicycle. Let's face it, a sports car makes for a lot more fun on a weekend!

Let's face it the only man who looks good lycra is Freddie Mercury!

Do you have a Mamil? Are you a Mamil? Am I missing something with competitive cycling?
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