Sunday, October 09, 2011

They're Coming!

Are iced mince pies under those hats?!
It's that time of year again.  As the temperature finally starts to cool, and we romp into the final quarter of the year, every expat's thoughts turn to Christmas. More specifically: what are we doing?

This will be my fourth (fourth!) Dubai Christmas and as I may have mentioned before, I adore the festive period here. We really throw ourselves into it and I find it even more enjoyable than I used to back home. Something about the blue sky and sunshine behind the carol singers that just lifts my heart. And Christmas Day on the lawn at the Ritz is one of those joyful experiences that I'll take with me to the grave. Music, laughter, love and Turkey. Wonderful.

We had the usual debate this year. As predictable as the sequins and fake tan on Strictly (in itself worthy of another blog) we debate the cost (hideous) and the weather (will Gatwick close).  Joan Collins (my glamorous Gran) is also laboring under the misconception that if she didn't come, we'd all have a far better time. She seems to think we'd all be out cutting up a rug every night on Dubai's dance floors, bless her.  Whilst I have seen my dad’s toes tapping at 360 on Christmas Eve, we've never come close to dancing. We’re all too busy stuffing iced mine pies and champers down our necks, truth be told.

So after all these discussions and reassurances, the tickets are booked. My lovely family will touch down in Dubai on the 20th, inshallah.  Let the planning commence!

Let Me Upgrade You...

Our suit was ALMOST this big!
There are few things more joyous in life than turning left on an airplane. Especially when the airline is Emirates. Even moreso when the left turn comes as a surprise upgrade. This hasn't happened to me for a while, but on a recent weekend away, we did have the joyous experience of being upgraded to the largest suite and the hotels best room.

Now, I'm a simple girl, who likes simple pleasures.  I don't NEED a giant lounge with more sofas than my apartment.  I don't NEED a roof terrace so large you could hold Kim Kardashian's wedding  reception on it. I don't NEED another two balconies.  I don't NEED a kitchen or two bathrooms (actually, I am a fan of his and hers bathrooms. How DO men make so much mess?)

BUT.....if you do, unexpectedly, find all these things at your disposal on an already beautiful weekend away, it would seem churlish not to don the giant fluffy robe, sink your feet into the comfy slippers, ring down for a bucket with ice and pop open some bubbles.....heaven.

I await my next stay in a 'normal' room with interest. And a little trepidation.

Spending a Penny....or a Dirham

Not QUITE this good, but...
Who hasn't had that awful feeling: you're pelting along a highway (motorway for my  UK chums) when you realize you need to answer a call of nature. Let's not talk about THAT time on the M62 (after 4 hours in one of the worst tailbacks in British living memory, a hedge at the side of the road looked like a good option) or THAT time on a Spanish motorway (as per previous story, only at least this time I had the girls with me and we suffered the hedge together).

As you scan the horizon for a gas station (petrol station, UK chums) you are already steeling yourself for the carnage that will await you inside. Let's just say that no one would choose one of these establishments for their final pee in life.

Well, you might if you were in the UAE! On a recent road trip we swung into a gas station and I grimly prepared myself for the trip to what was bound to be the bathroom of doom.  As I opened the door I did the usual holding of breath and prepared to force myself in.  But no! What awaited me was the shiniest, sparkliest, cleanest toilet in the whole of the kingdom. It almost out my home bathroom to shame and I have a weekly cleaner (thank you universe).

I've visited a few more gas station bathrooms since (all in the name of research. Yes I am a geek) and they've all been the same. Clean, shiny and stocked up with so much loo roll you could lag the loft with it.

I appreciate that public toilets are of little interest to anyone, with the exception perhaps of George Michael, but I just had to share this with you!

Goodbye work, Hello....?

What time does the bar open?
I had a few days off last month.  Unusually, I didn't travel anywhere, I stayed in good old Dubai.  No airport, no suitcase, no passport, just me and my favorite city.  Now, I've always been plagued by a work ethic, the sort that if chats about winning the lottery came up, I'd be 'one if those' who said: "Oh, but I'd still work. I'd have to. I'd go crazy if I didn't."

Last week I discovered something has changed.

I stayed at home and fell into an easy routine. Getting up around 9, coffee and breakfast on the balcony, reading newspapers, magazines, reclining on the purple velvet chaise  and devouring books, lazy lunch on the get the picture.  I was under doctor's orders to rest, but managed to slowly spring-clean the entire apartment, emptying cupboards, sorting through my wardrobe, organizing drawers, the list went on.  As I'm the sort of person who loves to tidy in the same way that fat girls love brunch, this was absolute bliss for me.

And as the days flew by in a whirl of pleasure, a worrying feeling began to sneak up on me. As I sank onto the chaise for the umpteenth time, the back of my neck prickled with the slow realization that actually, I could quite easily never work again.

So, what to do? Well I've given it some thought and have come up with the following ideas:

Find a Sugar Daddy
Obvious flaw in plan: whilst I adore grey hair, I do have an upper age limit, however rich they are. Also, men of a certain age want women much, much younger than me. And less (ahem) strong willed.

Become a Yummy Mummy/Housewife
Obvious flaw in plan: having seen how hard my favorite Dubai blogger works, I'm not sure this would allow for enough chaise time. Also, UAE labour law only allows gives you one month maternity leave (always found this incongruous considering the Arab emphasis on family values).

Discover an as Yet Untapped Talent Within Me
Obvious flaw in plan: in my, shall we say, more 'oiled' moments, I like to think I can hold a tune, throw a few shapes, even bang out a tune (and it is only one tune) on the piano.  But let's face it, I'm no Gary Barlow.  And I'm not sure the world is really ready for a roller skating hula-hooper.

Win on the National Bonds
Obvious flaw in plan: as I do actually have some savings in the National Bonds, this is perhaps the horse to back.  My chances may be one in a trillion but hey, you've got to be in it to win it, no?

So there you have it. Whilst it's always wonderful to be surprised in life and learn something new about oneself, I'd rather it hadn't been this. Until I crack one of the ideas above, it's back to the daily 12 hour grind...wish me luck.