Monday 30 June 2014

Knocked for six

I have a very annoying track record, one that really frustrates me. That is getting sick on holiday.

It feels like almost any time I go on holiday I get sick. And not just a little sick, but a lot sick.

There was the time we went to Disney World in Florida and I got measles. Then there was time I went to Expo 88 in Brisbane and got pneumonia. Good times!

I'm now in the most idyllic seaside town you can imagine, with glands swollen to the size of golf balls on my neck. Shivers and chills. Feeling like I've been hit by a bus.

Last night we ate at a little seafood restaurant. Calamari, sardines, prawns the size of my hands. Carafes of good wine and all I wanted to do was slide under the table. Sitting on the Adriatic, never imagining I'd get the chance to have such a simply good meal. Annoying to say the least.

So, go away illness and, please, do not strike anyone else in this family!

Sunday 29 June 2014

Where am I again?

Phew! We've arrived. It's been quite a big day and a half!

It started at 4am, Saturday - we woke and drove to Abu Dhabi (about an hour away from Dubai) for our flight to Belgrade, Serbia. Darbs manage to knock over a whole shelf of products in the Abu Dhabi Duty Free which wasn't the best start to the day. We flew Air Serbia and I have to say I was a little concerned. It was a dirt cheap flight (about half of every other airline) and the reviews online weren't particularly good, in fact a lot of them were downright bad. So, I was pleasantly surprised our flight was so good - the best airline stewardesses I've come across, friendly and nothing was too much bother. The food was good and the plane was comfortable. The only downside was no inflight entertainment, I was a bit fearful when I stepped on the plane and noticed there wasn't a single screen. The kids were fine though and the five-hour flight was fairly painless.

We arrived in Belgrade to more friendly people and were off on the road to Zagred in our hire car in no time at all. The greenery! After two years in the desert, I forget sometimes that nature can be so green! After four hours on the road and our middle girl getting sicker by the moment we arrived in Zagreb. We easily found our cosy little apartment in the centre of town. I suddenly realised that we'd ticked off four cities in three countries. (Waking in Dubai, flying out of Abu Dhabi in Belgrade and climbing into bed in Zagreb, Croatia).

By morning we had not one, but two sick girls. Sadly we had to cancel our planned lunch in Llubjana (Slovenia - another country ticked off) with my brother and his family and head straight for the seaside town of Piran. This tiny seaside town is just magic. Tiny roads, old buildings all around a small harbour. The perfect stop to spend a couple of days - wandering around the old streets, eating seafood, drinking wine and beer. Hopefully the girls are feeling better.

Right now, I'm relaxing with a drink and watching this view while the girls sleep off their illness. Could be a lot worse.

Happy holidays!

Venice is off there in the distance, somewhere. 

Thursday 26 June 2014

Get lost

We're getting ready to depart on our summer holiday. We're lucky to be heading on a last-minute trip to Europe, it's been a lot of rushed co-ordination - finding accommodation, planning where we're going and what we're going to do. Most of it is a stab in the dark, with our fingers crossed that we'll enjoy it. The way that things work for us here is that we don't often get the luxury of planning trips off in the distance, finding the perfect location and best accommodation. It generally happens like this - we've got time off in two weeks, quick where should we go, where can we afford flights to? And off we go.

It's fun and I feel so fortunate we're able to do things like this, a surprise trip to Europe is an amazing luxury - 4 countries in two weeks. From Australia, flying anywhere with 3 kids is prohibitively expensive and it just wouldn't happen for us.

I am feeling nervous, mainly because we will be driving more than 2000km in our journey. It's not the driving that worries me, it's getting lost. I have such a fear of getting lost, making wrong turns and not knowing where I'm going. Give me a map and I'm pretty good navigator, but I start worrying straight away that I'll misjudge the route.

There's  no better feeling than being on the right track and knowing exactly where you are. I'm not one of those people who go "wow, we're lost but this place we've found is amazing" I'll be secretly fretting about finding my way back to the right road.

I'm going to try and not worry this trip, instead I'm going to enjoy the scenery and soak up where where we are,  but I'm guessing I'll still have sweaty palms each time we head off in the car.

Thursday 19 June 2014

In the blink of an eye

It's my girls' last day of school for the year today. For whatever reason, I'm filled to the brim with emotions.

Maybe it's because this year has just gone by so fast. In the blink of an eye, the girls are another year older and so much more wiser and mature and grown up.

Maybe it's because I'm feeling sentimental and nostalgic and I don't want these precious early years to go by so fast.

Maybe it's because I'll have to say goodbye to my closest Dubai friend today.

Maybe it's because I've got 10 weeks of school holidays stretching out ahead of me. Yes, 10!

Maybe it's because I over indulged last night while watching the Soceroos. Oops.

Maybe it's all of that.

The past couple of weeks have been filled with end-of-school year productions, assemblies, concerts, ceremonies and they've all been just lovely. I'm so proud of my girls.

By tomorrow, I'll have shaken it off and moved onto the next phase – how to  entertain 3 kids in 45 degree heat. But today, I'll soak in a little of that emotion.

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Have we got a video?

Being a younger sibling, there's no doubt I was influenced by my older brothers. They were quite a bit older than me and they introduced me to a lot of music and movies I still love today. There was The Beatles, The Doors, Big Wednesday and, of course, The Young Ones.

I still vividly remember my eldest brother talking about this crazy show he'd seen the night before with a hippy and a punk and how hilarious it was. Before long The Young Ones was a permanent fixture on our TV. VHS tapes scrawled with words like 'Sick', 'Bambi, Money, Nasty, Oil, Flood could be found scattered around. These tapes were played over and over again. Catch phrases such as "Have we got a video?" and "You utter, utter bastard" were bandied about the house. I was definitely far too young for it, but I loved it all the same.

Besides being completely hilarious, there was fab music and one of my all-time favourite bands Madness were regulars.

Years later, when those taped VHS tapes had disintegrated I got the whole series again on a brand-new shiny tape. Loving it more at 18 than I did at 8.

Another 20 years on, little quotes or scenes from The Young Ones still pop up in brain, completely ingrained in my mind. I loved Bottom and The Comic Strip (especially The Famous Five Go Mad on Mescaline) but there's something special about The Young Ones.

When a story about the death of Rik Mayall popped up on my computer last night, I felt that little moment of shock, "What a shame" I thought. Then I realised how much he'd been on my screen through my life.

Here are some of the best Rik moments:

Friday 6 June 2014

The surreal life

Life is good here in Dubai. I certainly can't complain. Sure it's hot and sandy, but it's a good (if not surreal) life.

For instance, it's Friday morning here, the start of our weekend. We've beaten the heat and gone for our early morning swim as we do every Friday morning. We like to wear the kids out before the sun really starts to sizzle and they're stuck inside. This morning Goosey started shivering in the pool proclaiming: "I've got icicles all over my arms!" We checked the water temperature and it was 30 degrees. I must admit I felt it was a little chilly too, which shows how warm the air temperature is.

Hungry and a little tired, I brought the kids home for breakfast while Skip went off to go snowboarding with a mate. That's what you can do in this crazy city, swim before breakfast and snowboard before lunch any day of the year (all thanks to the indoor ski field at our local mall). After that we'll go out and eat lunch as a family, as many others do on a Friday here. Then probably another swim.

I was reading a story last night in the Sydney Morning Herald about Dubai as a stopover city, basically saying once is enough to visit this place. I read it to Skip who raised his eyebrows and said: "I've been here almost two years and there are still many things I haven't seen or done." Reading the comments I'm aways surprised by the fierce opposition to this city, especially from people who've never been here. What is it about Dubai that brings out such emotion in people?!

Sure there's the crazy stuff here but I don't think Dubai is trying to be London or New York. I think the city is actually just trying to be Dubai, different from the vast majority of cities in the world. There are so many parts of this place away from the glitz and the glamour. Sure it's fantastic fun to rock up to a five-star hotel for a sundowner or wander round the upmarket shops at Dubai Mall. It's also equally fun to take a 1 dirham (approx 25c) abra ride across the creek, wander through the gold or spice souq and eat at a fabulous Indian or Pakistani restaurant while sitting on the street watching the world go by.
I think Dubai has a really strong identity, contrary to what a lot of people seem to think. It is definitely a city of contrasts and I love that. Old to New. Conservative and restrained to lavish and loud.

Everyone who has visited us has said they've been surprised by the city. That it had a lot more to offer than they expected. That the people were friendlier. That there was a lot more to do and explore.

Whatever people say, for me it's a wonderful place to live and I feel blessed to be here however long we stay.

Sunday 1 June 2014

Desert dwelling

In my part of the world everything is winding up. The school year is almost at an end, as I pulled into the car park this morning it felt empty, many families already flying out to escape the summer heat.

Over the past couple of weeks the temperature has risen and it's officially hot. Everyday above 40 (by this time next week it will be 45 degrees), the humidity rising, a midday outing outside unthinkable. As of today, summer is officially here.

Some friends are putting their furniture on Dubizzle (the Dubai equivalent of eBay) getting ready to leave the UAE forever; others are just packing up for the summer months and getting ready to go "home" to cooler climes and family.

We are planning to wave goodbye to everyone and sweat it out here for the summer. Maybe a break away for a week or two somewhere, but for the most part we'll be desert dwellers. Summer camps to fill the day; early morning swims in a chilled pool; arts & crafts; movies; anything away from the blazing sun. It will be interesting to see how we cope with a full Dubai summer.

The kids have that end-of-school year fatigue, struggling to get going in the morning, ready for a break. Before then we've got end of year performances, certificate ceremonies, farewells and parties to fit in.

Deep breath and go!
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