Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Much Needed Break

I'm off to Sri Lanka this Thursday night. Yes, I know there's a war on. I've been assured that it is far, far away from where I'm going, and is the geographical equivalent of unrest in the Outer Hebrides when you're down in London. Fingers crossed on that one.....
It's been a long time since I've had a proper break, so as you can imagine, excitement is at fever pitch. This is where I'm staying, looks good, non?
The villa comes with a private housekeeper, chef, and yoga teacher. The chef consults with you each day to see what you'd like to eat - and your wish is his command. Yum!
I will of course keep you updated on my return.....

It's Good to be a Girl

Great system in place here in Dubai - every Tuesday night is "Ladies Night". Now this may sound cheesy but what it effectively means is: free booze! Lots of different venues basically give away drinks, and all you have to do is turn up. Some are limited eg just the two, others are free-flowing for hours. Thus far I've stayed away from the free-flowing variety as Tuesday is, after all, a school night. But there's a lovely bar with terrace on my way home from work which just gives the two, and it's a regular stop off each Tuesday. And quite a few other nights too, but that's a different story.
Can you imagine the excitement/furore if this happened in the UK?!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An Interesting Way to Travel....

Now this would definitely get me using the Tube each day!

Freedom....or not?

An interesting piece in today's Guardian on the freedom of the press (or the lack of it) in the UAE. His observations reflect my experience of working here.
A client of mine recently commissioned some research into, amongst other things, how long senior business leaders here thought the recession would last in the UAE. An overwhelming proportion said two years.
This week Sheikh Mohammed made it clear during a webcast that the economic crisis was over. Well, that's ok then!
So, we're now in a situation where we can't release our original story. Not only would no-one touch it - too negative- it would also adversely affect my client if their name was associated with unearthing negative stories about the region. Interesting times.....

Monday, April 20, 2009

Nice Work if You Can Get It...

There is a man in the office today. He comes every week. His job is to dust the plants. No, really. He has just spent the last hour wiping all of the leaves with a damp cloth. Only in Dubai....

Sunday, April 19, 2009

You're Fired!

I'm back into the Apprentice. I'd forgotten how utterly gripping it is. Yes, they're all a bunch of dimwits, but it seriously is one of the most entertaining programmes I've ever seen. As ever, I'm shocked by how they think nothing of stabbing one another in the back.. I'm still not completely up to date on all their names but there's one girl who is particularly unsavoury - Yasmina, I think.

I have to say it's not the same without being able to dissect the programme in the office the next day - obviously no-one else here is watching it. But it's still a hoot, regardless.

My favourite part (and there are many to choose from) has to be the way Suralan's chair is so obviously bolstered up to be higher than Margaret and Nick's when in the boardroom. Do his feet even touch the ground?

So far my money is on Phil to win. Although any man that uses hair straighteners really does need shooting....

Lost in the Post?

You may recall me moaning about the Dubai postal system (or lack of it) on this blog. I've managed to get round this when sending cards to the UK by using Moonpig (thanks for the tip Vikki and others!) but getting stuff here is still a little hit and miss.

So it was with much excitement that I arrived into work to a card from Ms Doyle this morning! I am prepared to overlook the obvious taunts about a certain ex-feline of mine's weight as the card was so hilarious. Thanks my love.

A Dubai Bargain

Some things in Dubai are expensive. Mouthwash, celery, wine. the list goes on. Some things are ridiculously cheap. Yesterday, in pre-holiday preparation I was waxed, massaged, and polished, to within an inch of my love, for the princely sum of just 20 quid. I don't think that would even pay for a manicure at home!

Unplanned Debauchery

This weekend was a series of unplanned events…all hilarious. I arrived back from Qatar late n Thursday night. After scuttling into Duty Free at the airport and stocking up on gin, then negotiating the enormous taxi queue, I finally fell through my lobby doors at about 10 pm. One of the joys of living in the same development as various groups of friends is that there’s always someone to have fun with – and I bumped into one group in the lobby. It didn’t take much to convince me to stop off for ‘just one quick glass of wine’. This obviously became two, three, maybe four. After being in Qatar for two days in a dry hotel, it slipped down a little too easily. The balcony we were on has the most spectacular views of the Burj and the fountains, lord knows how high they must be to be visible from such a distance. Much ‘ooohing and aahing’ in between the gossiping and laughing.

I woke up, fully clothed, lying horizontally across my bed at about 11 the next day. You can’t buy class!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Written in the Stars...?

A few years ago the lovely Ms Webster from Photolink introduced me to a certain Linda Lancashire. She's an astrologist. Before you scoff, I'm not crazily into things like this, but Linda has been spookily accurate for me over the years - and all of my friends. This is her forecast for me this week. Those that know me well may agree that this resonates, a lot, with recent developments in my life:

After months of not knowing which direction your life was going in, news will reach you that will come as a thunderbolt, but at least you now know the truth about a situation that has been slowly making you feel ill and unable to move forwards.

Someone you thought you could trust has just shown their true colours to the extent where it’s only natural that you feel shocked and humiliated, but help is at hand. Good friends and those who love you will help you rebuild your life and point you in the right direction. Not only that, you are going to be in a better position to go out there and meet new people, have some much needed fun and laugh once more with individuals who are as honest and genuine as you are.

What are you waiting for kids - log onto her website and see for yourself:

She updates them every Friday....

The Joys of Qatar

I'm in Qatar this week. It's growing on me a lot, actually. It has a lovely corniche area which people jog/walk along at night. This time I'm staying in the Movenpick- great view of sparkling blue sea, sand, palm trees.

Couple of things that are different here in Qatar: it's a few degrees colder. Quite significantly so in the evening.

Not every hotel has an alcohol licence. And wouldn't you know it - mine is one which doesn't. You can imagine my disappointment as I settled down in my fluffy bathrobe, freshly fake tanned, to order a nice glass of pinot grigio. I had to settle for a bottle of mineral water. Delicious! Still, my liver and my waistline will be grateful in the long run, I guess.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lost in Translation

Some very typical English phrases/words which have had my colleagues scratching their heads, and me howling with laughter, recently:

Wild horses wouldn't drag me there
Up shxt creek without a paddle
Silly sausage
Silly goose
Muffin top
What a munter
Hamster back
I'm not being funny but.....
What a kerfuffle
Wishy washy

There are so so many of these, every day. Well, they make me smile.

My Name is Helen

Fresh back from a hilarious girls weekend away. Stayed at the divine Shangri-La in Abu Dhabi, which sits overlooking the world’s largest Mosque. A gorgeous view. It has a souk next door which you can travel to by Abra ( a small traditional wooden boat) or golf cart.

After an evening of delicious dinner and scintillating conversation (of course!) we retired to the hotel bar for a few scoops. We hadn’t been sat down for long when we caught the attention of an (ahem) rotund local gentleman, who began sending drinks to the table. So far, nothing really out of the ordinary, although this doesn’t happen to me all that often, I have to say. Anyway, this went on for quite some time, with various glasses of wine, and other, more unpalatable looking cocktails and shots arriving on the table. Unsolicited by us, just to clarify. Each time this happened the waitress came over looking very embarrassed about the situation.

Eventually, the inevitable happened. The waitress came over to say that the rotund gentleman would like to join us. We declined, politely, explaining that we were having far too much girl talk to be interrupted. Despite this, he ignored us and joined us anyway. It soon became clear that not only was he rotund, but also sweaty, and very, very drunk. There followed on the most hilarious interchanges I have ever experienced. I’ve tried to re-create it below but to be honest it loses a lot in translation.

Him: What is your name (pointing at me.)
Me: Kelly
Him: Helen?
Me: No, Kelly
Him: Helen?
Me: No, Kelly
Him: Helen?
Me: (admitting defeat) Yes, that’s right Helen.
Him: Helen, I have 57 cars.
Me: That’s nice.
Him: I can give you a car.
Me: That’s ok, thanks.
Him: Where are you from?
Me: Manchester.
Him: I was in Manchester in 1979.
Me: I was three years old then.
Him: I have a big property in London.
Me: That’s nice.
Him: You can go and stay there.
Me: (Trying to look enthusiastic) Great.
Him: Next time you come to Abu Dhabi, you can stay in one of my properties. I have many properties.
Me: Lovely.
Him: Are you married?
Me: No. How many wives have you got?
Him: One. 7 children.
Me: How lovely.
Him: Give me your phone number.
Me: Writing down a fake phone number: here you go.
Him: Take my phone number.
Me: Ok. (Instantly throwing number over my shoulder.)
Him: (After answering his mobile) I go now.
Me: Was that your wife then?!

And off he went lumbering into the night. I tell you, it was a very bizarre experience. And what worries me the most is that these were clearly tried and trusted lines from him. Yes, welcome to the place where “I have 57 cars” is seen as an acceptable chat up line. Nice!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Happy Easter

Despite living in a Muslim country, we, unusually, have been given Easter Sunday off. Meaning a three day weekend – what a treat! As usual they let us know at the last minute, but hey, I’m not complaining. Have snagged a room at the gorgeous Shangri-La in Abu Dhabi. Think white beach, infinity pool, and ultimate luxury. The road trip begins at 9 am tomorrow. Celebrity gossip magazines are ready as is enormous beach hat. And of course the girls. Bliss!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I'm Back!

Hello dear readers! Did you miss me?! No, I haven't disappeared off the face off the earth entirely. It's been a busy old time what with visitor season and all. I have now firmly packed the parentals and grandma back to Jersey. Bless them. They loved Dubai, and it was great to see it through their eyes.
There was however, no need for the weather during their trip. It was horrendous! Torrential rain for about 5 days out of 7. Horrific. You can imagine the debacle that was the Open Top Bus Tour - hmmm attractive when in pac a mac with thunderstorm whirling around you and rain driving into your face at a 90 degree angle. Still ,as we kept saying, at least it wasn't cold. If we'd been in Manchester it would have been the same only much, much icier.
So, the blow up bed is deflated, bedding put away, ready for the next batch of visitors. You know you are beautiful people!