Monday, May 25, 2009

A Geek, Me?

Who'd have thought that a digital thermometer could be the source of such fun. Oh yes. My name is Kelly and I have temperature OCD.Since ensconsing said thermometer on balcony (in shade) I have become v interested, nay obsessed in just how hot it is at various points during the day.

If you're interested (and why would you be?!) here are some numbers for you:

830 am - last week - 32
930 am - this week - 37.8
1.45 pm - this week - 44.6

You can see where this pattern is going, non? And lord knows where my sanity is going. I haven't started producing bar charts......yet. Somebody stop me!

It Looks Like a...Cockroach?

The new Dubai metro system continues apace, with the driverless trains being tested every so often on the track next to my office. This causes much excitement for me, less so for my colleagues. It will be really interesting to se how it operates when it opens and how the people of Dubai (who love their cars) react to it. It has a start date of 09-09-09 (see what they did there) and they have certainly thrown it up at speed in the stretches that I see every day. There was, quite literally, nothing there when I first arrived, then giant 'struts' appeared, then the track was laid. Incredible really. Anyway, the collective verdict on these state-of-the-art stations on which no expense has been spared? They look like.....giant cockroaches. Ah well.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The News I've Been Waiting For

I read this story with much excitement today. Sleeping can help you lost weight! In this case I should be about 3 stone....I've always been a great sleeper, easily being able to crack out a good 12 hours on any given weekend. Since moving to Dubai I've definitely been sleeping less: I work longer hours so I get home much later so everything shifts a bit later, including bed time....and when it comes to the weekend, well I can't say I bound out of bed, but I'm up much, much earlier than I ever was back home. It's the lure of the sunshine, pool and beach that does it.
I'm hoping this new research means if I have a very long lie in this Friday, before the gargantuan brunch session we have planned, then all the food I stuff myself with will melt away....a girl can dream.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Silence is Golden

Finally, some peace. Yes, the canine returned to its rightful owner last night. What was originally just a weekend visit turned into a 5 night/6 day extravaganza. She didn’t go without a fight. A work colleague came to pick her up (not her owner) which must have set her off on the wrong foot (or paw.) Anyway there was a performance of Oscar winning status: barking, howling, shrieking, refusing to move, (this was all outside my neighbour’s front door, great) culminating in her actually slipping the leash when we finally got outside.

Cue me chasing the beast round the outside of my apartment complex – looking good in my pyjamas (ironically, the ones with dogs on them.) After what can only be described as a wrestling session I finally got her in the car. I swear the concierge was stifling a laugh when I went back inside. I can’t really blame him, I have to say.
Dogs: love the little critters – but don’t want one of my own. Not until I have my enormous beach house in Malibu and I can turf the buggers out the back door for an exhausting run each day, that is…..

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Teenage Crush

I'll admit I've come to this quite late, but I've recently started watching the US TV series Entourage, and am completely hooked by it! If you don't know the story: it follows one young actor as he becomes more and more successful in Hollywood. Instead of having a team of sycophantic staff, he moves to LA with his friends. One is the cook, one the manager, one the driver. As his popularity grows they get access to all manner of fabulous parties and excitement (at one point he buys them each an Aston Martin whena film does well.)
It's absolutely hilarious, as well as being VERY easy on the eye - the main charcated is played by Adrian Grenier, who I am now completely in love with. Oh and the soundtrack is perfect: very cool hip-hop.
Now don't get me wrong, I love all my friends dearly. But if one of them could see fit to have this kind of career change, and involve me in it, I would be soooo delighted.

Canines Versus Felines

Had a lovely visitor this weekend in the shape of a small (well small-ish) hairy white dog called Lucy. Very cute, if a bit on the daft side.
It was a reminder just how easy cats are to look after! To be fair, maybe if you're living in a house with a garden, a dog is not such a big deal. But in an apartment this means visits outside four times a day for toilet trips..and as I am not a lover of dragging myself out of bed at 7 am each day, this was tough. And bless Lucy, nipping outside, even briefly, when it's 40 degrees can't be much fun when you have a heavy fur coat on.
Another way that cats triumph over dogs (and I'm not saying Lucy isn't razor sharp in the brain-box department) is that they can't be fooled easily. When I left the apartment, rather than letting her roam loose, I put her in the kitchen. This involved me throwing a toy camel (don't ask) into the kitchen each time, which Lucy bounded in after excitedly, tongue lolling, ears flapping. And each time I then whizzed the kitchen door closed, shouting:" sucker"! I must have done this 20 times over the weekend. Did she get wise to this trick? Did she hell.
Frank Harvarde would never have fallen for such a ruse. Mind you, if food was involved he might have shown an interest....

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Rude Awakening...

It's been a while since I've been woken up my paws poking me from the side of the bed....that was the greeting I received this morning. I'm dog sitting for a friend whilst she travels to the World Economic Forum in Jordan, so last night a very furry bundle called Lucy arrived at my door, complete with food, bowls, lead etc.

We're still getting to know one another but so far things are going fine. I didn't relish dragging myself out of my pit at 7 am to take her for a walk (cats are so much less effort) but once outside I realised that there's a whole canine world out there that I didn't know about. In the space of 15 minutes I met two Jack Russells (one a teeny tiny puppy called Ginger) and a Shit-Zu. Dogs really are a great way to meet people.....

Even at 7 in the morning it was tres hot to be walking around. Lucy downed about three pints of water when we got back inside.

Anyway, I've left her in the kitchen (had to do the age old trick of enticing her in with a treat) so fingers crossed she isn't currently tearing it limb from limb......

I intend to take her on the walk of her life later on to try and tire her out. I can do without a furry alarm clock at 5 am tomorrow.....

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Head for Heights...

Looked out the window of the office today, and saw these guys hard at work. Not a job I'd like, I have to say, seeing as I get vertigo when stood on the pavement. Mind you, they have it easier than the guys that are currently cleaning my apartment windows. At least these ones will only have to go up tot he 8th floor. My apartment tower has 37 floors. Eek!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Hairdryer Treatment

There's no more walking to work at the moment - it suddenly became scorchio, what felt like overnight. When I emerge from my apartment each morning it's a definite case of 'clamp sunglasses to head and steel yourself for searing heat in the face.' Thankfully, taxis have cottoned onto the fact that a lot of people in my complex need rides to work in the morning, so each mornign there's a dutiful line of them waiting for people. And the sum it costs me to get to work? 2 quid. Love it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

This is When I Don't Miss the UK...

This news story saddened me. Four people shot in separate attacks in Liverpool over the weekend. Now, I may be a million times more likely to die in a traffic accident here in Dubai than anywhere else in the world (damn you, lunatic drivers) but I've never had the slightest concern about guns......

Life's a Beach

Another weekend, another whirl of entertaining, and mainly, laughing like a hyena. The lovely Vikki took a trip over from Oman, and we did what girls do best. Gossiped, shopped, drank, the usual.

Way back in my murky youth, on a small island, far far away, we used to have beach nights every Thursday. Remember, people of Jersey? It was at a very dodgy club called Thackery's. I'm not sure what made it a beach night other than our outfits (not bikinis but much more casual than Jersey's usual dress code of jeans and shoes (if you're a boy.) ANYWAY I digress.

Against my better judgement we found ourselves at a beach night here in Dubai. This definitely had more of a beach theme - ten tonnes of sand on the dancefloor for starters (Note to self: tres hard to dance on uneven sandy dancefloor), and for mains, there were a lot of inflatable rubber rings etc being thrown about. No need for this. Yes, there may be photographic evidence of me perched on a rubber ring at Creamfields circa 2001, but I was young, I needed the money. Those days are behind me!

Anyway, I can honestly say I haven't laughed so much in years. Musically we lurched from the hilarious (Club Tropicana) to the hideous (Nirvana) so it wasn't all plain sailing, but, overall, what a hoot! I'm still finding sand in my shoes.....

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Weekend is Landing!

Another week draws to a close, another weekend is almost upon us. The time really does just whistle past here, it's a strange phenomenon and one which everyone who lives here feels and comments on. Anyway.....after the excitement of Eve's visit, this weekend the lovely Vikki is in town.
Plans include, in no particular order: pool, sunbathing, shopping, lunch, dinner, disco dancing, sunbathing.....and (groan) I should really squeeze in a visit to the gym. After three swims this week (divine in the evenings when it's still hot and there's a warm breeze) so I'm feeling kind of virtuous, but that's really not enough to keep that Dubai stone at bay. Maybe the dancing could make a gym visit unnecessary...? We'll see!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


One of the fascinating things about living in the Middle East, and probably any country which you're not a native of, is learning more about the culture of the place that you live, and your new friends and colleagues.

I'm used to the fact that many of my colleagues have never seen snow. of course, why would they, it's boiling here! But interestingly, today I discovered that many of them have never seen a real-life pig. Pigs are Haram in Islam and so not likely to be found on farms.

Cue this story:

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan's only known pig has been locked in a room, away from visitors to Kabul zoo where it normally grazes beside deer and goats, because people are worried it could infect them with the virus popularly known as swine flu.The pig is a curiosity in Muslim Afghanistan, where pork and pig products are illegal because they are considered irreligious, and has been in quarantine since Sunday after visitors expressed alarm it could spread the new flu strain.

Bless! You can see the poor piggy left. I think he was enjoying his last moments of freedom.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

To Yemen, or Not to Yemen?

Am considering a weekend trip to Yemen. If you've never heard of the place (the reference in Friends doesn't count) it's only a hop, skip and a jump from Dubai. And very cheap to get to you. Though of course it's the cultural diversity I'm interested in.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has this to say in terms of travel advice:

"We advise against all but essential travel to Yemen due to the threat of terrorism and tribal violence. You should take all necessary steps to protect your safety; this includes having confidence in your personal security arrangements.

There is a high threat from terrorism in Yemen including against Western, and British, interests. You should avoid places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers, including in Sana'a and other urban centres. On 18 March 2009 there was an attempted suicide attack on the airport road in Sana'a. Also on 15 March 2009 a group of South Korean nationals were attacked at Shibam in Hadramaut Governorate. Four South Koreans are known to have died. At least 17 people were killed in a terrorist attack on the US Embassy in Sana'a on 17 September, including six terrorists. We believe that terrorists continue to plan attacks."

Friendly, eh? Mind you, they advise against travel to a) The Middle East (when I of course live here) and b) Sri Lanka, which I visited without incident only last week.


Sunday, May 03, 2009

A Few Photos of Paradise

A Perfect Holiday

Fresh back from the most blissful week in Sri Lanka. If you’ve never been – well, it’s just the most amazing place in the world. I’ll admit to being a little trepidacious before setting off – if one more person said to me: “You know, there’s a war on there”, but all that hullabaloo is far, far away from the rest of the island and anywhere that I was visiting.

Where to start? Well things got off to a fabulous start when I was upgraded to Business Class on the flight over. I’ve always wondered how this happens – in this instance I suspect it may be because I was the only woman on the plane (no, really) and one of only 4 western travellers – and the other three all got bumped to business too. I did start to wonder if I should be morally outraged by this, but to be honest I was too busy enjoying the great leg-room, super-comfy seats and free-flowing champagne to dwell on it.

I arrived at 6 in the morning and was met by my lovely driver Shosha. What a cool guy! A Sri Lankan native who knew the roads like the back of his hand and was a great guide. First stop: Piniwela Elephant Orphanage. Despite having had no sleep for about 36 hours by the time we arrived, nothing could dampen my excitement. Elephants rock, it’s as simple as that. And they have quite a tight schedule, by all accounts. First up is feeding. Then they all troupe down a hill (crossing a road and walking past shops, no less) and spend a couple of hours messing about in the nearby river. And they do this twice a day.

Amazing to get so close to them – I was actually surprised by how nervous I got – they are, needless to say – enormous. And the sheer brute power of them…..very impressive. I bought a bag of bananas to feed them (Shosha found this hilarious and informed me that for what I paid (about 5p) I could have bought a kilo in a market. Hey ho. I fed a friendly looking chap the bag (he was pretty enthusiastic, I have to say) and had the obligatory photo taken. I was very excited. Then we stayed and relaxed on the rocks and just watched the elephants having a generally great time. There was a lot of trumpeting, water throwing, and lazing in the water. Some had a bit of scrub from the keepers. By the end I was fantasizing about chucking it all in and devoting my life to this very simple existence. I resisted the urge to shout out: “ I was once a zoo-keeper for the day, don’t you know!”

The rest of the day was spent visiting various places off the beaten track – I strongly suspect that a lot of these places were run by Shosha’s friends, and he was doing them favour by taking me to them. Still, seeing as most things cost about 2 quid, I really didn’t mind, and did by a few bits and pieces as we went round.

One stop: a tea factory/plantation. Now, I like tea (Earl Grey only, thank you very much), and it is a fascinating process watching it turn from green bits of bush into proper, drinkable tea, but I wasn’t prepared for the stench of the wet tea as it dried – absolutely foul! It may have also been the fact that it was about 35 degrees at this stage ad nowhere seemed to have any AC. At one point I did think that nausea was going to overwhelm me to the point of actually vomiting, but thankfully I held it together. I didn’t think that it would really have been appropriate to gip into a crate of freshly dried tea……

By this point I was dead on my feet and begged for mercy. Mercy came in the form of a divine guest house called Serendip. Perched above a river deep in the hills it was absolutely beautiful. I was the only person staying there apart from the owner’s son – Julian – who just happed to be 6 foot 4, mid-twenties, and a dead ringer for the cute one from Entourage. Sometimes the universe really is just too good…..

After an hour’s shut eye, which I was woken from by the sound of cows in the garden (no, really) it was off for more adventure. This time into the town of Kandy for a ‘Cultural Show’ which involved going into what would be the equivalent of a village hall, where locals performed a variety of dances. It was unintentionally hilarious – think a combination of Britain’s Got Talent, and one of Jayne Leggatt’s amazing am dram performances! Then, (because really, who needs sleep, toughen up!) it was off to a Buddhist temple where another lovely guide took me round and explained all the various parts to me. The oddest part: walking in, the guide pointed to the sky, and said: “Look, Birds.”

Me: “Yes, birds, lovely.” (Seen one bird seen them all, but I do like to maintain my manners.”
Guide: “No madam, birds.”
Me: “Yes, birds, lovely.” (What is he on about.)
Guide: “No Madam, BATS.”
Me: “GULP. Yes, BATS, I see.” Hurl!

And not just any bats – but elephant bats. Not sure exactly what this means, but suffice to say, they were absolutely HUGE. ENORMOUS. Anyway, we scuttled inside and I spent an hour or so umming and ahhing at what I hope were the right points. I’ve never been into a Buddhist temple before. It was packed.

Finally, it was home time, with a gorgeous dinner, g and t, and, at last, bed. But not before I’d sauntered into my bathroom to find THE most enormous spider I have ever seen, clinging to the wall. Cue much shrieking from me, after which the three staff entered the bathroom at speed to dispose of said arachnid. They were in there for a good 5 minutes or so during which I hug around feeling like a bit of a tit, I have to say. I had visions of them wrestling it to the ground in turns. Or they may have just been wearing my underwear as headgear, who knows. They emerged victorious and it was finally sleep time for me. Phew.

Next day was a four hour car journey down to the South West coast and the final destination. On the way we stopped at: a Batik Factory, Wood Carving Factory (I used the word ‘factory’ very loosely), and a ridiculously high viewing point which gave a great view over the hills. We also had a couple of lunch/washroom breaks. Driving in Sri Lanka, I had been told, is not for the faint-hearted – well after living and driving in Dubai for the last 11 months, I laughed in the face of this so-called terrifying driving. At no point did the car get over 60 km an hour. I explained to Shosha that when driving to Abu Dhabi, 140 plus an hour is the norm – he found this absolutely fascinating.

Eventually we arrived at the final destination – Sri Villas. Words can’t really do the place justice. It’s three villas, right on their own private beach. They come with a chef, housekeeper, and three houseboys. The chef and the housekeeper have obvious roles, the houseboys’ job seemed to be to anticipate what you wanted, before you even knew you wanted it. This meant that each morning a sunbed was carried down to the beach for me, glasses of homemade lemonade appeared miraculously at my side after a swim, along with a fresh towel, and g and t’s/glasses of wine appeared as the sun set each evening. Utterly divine. Each morning the housekeeper gave menu options for the day ahead (salads, seafood, all yum) and then went out to the local market to buy the stuff. She then presented me with a bill at the end – and it was v v cheap. Not only an amazing experience but a bargain to boot. I’m already trying to work out when I can make a repeat visit.

Sadly I didn’t get upgraded on the return flight, but as I was in a frenzy of “Eve Alexander’ excitement, this didn’t matter a jot. More updates on our fun-filled weekend to follow!

In the meantime – get yourself to Sri Lanka for a holiday, if you can. You won’t regret it.