Archive | November, 2014

Feeling Old

29 Nov

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Sooner or later we all start to feel our age. For me this has really become noticeable living out here in AD. To not be working seems to be unthinkable for a start and there’s no getting away from the fact that everyone else is younger. But it is an attitude of mind also.

You know when:

The high street fashions look like something your mother would wear in the 70’s and you can’t tell the difference between a dress and night attire.

You hardly recognise anyone in the gossip magazines and those you do are described as “veteran”.

You compliment someone by saying they look like Audrey Hepburn and they say “Who?”

Your children seem to be talking a foreign language: “Started a mini build on JebTek. Crashed my client and can’t log in. Reset coords – no help. Oh well!”

Everyone on the telly mumbles. You look at each other “What did he say?” “No idea”. Suddenly subtitles are an attractive feature.

Your (much younger) companions burst out laughing saying “Look at the old people dancing!” Hilarious.

You’d much rather drink chilled dry wine than a sweet, fruity cocktail and you just don’t see the point of shots.

You get much more excited at the prospect of a restaurant doing an Italian theme night than Creamfields. Who? What?

The piped chill out music is more irritating than relaxing while the stuff they play to get you going in the gym isn’t what you’d call music at all and you know you sound like your Dad.

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You rediscover Bob Marley. Not all bad, then.

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Foggy Sunrise

27 Nov

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OK, I know it’s November but somehow I never imagined it would be foggy in Abu Dhabi.

Dragon Boat Racing

23 Nov

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We stumbled (almost literally) on the sport of Dragon Boat Racing at the weekend. The original intention had been to spend the morning at Yas Marina, have a bite to eat and take a peek at all the super yachts reported to have arrived for the F1 Grand Prix. How naïve can you get? We were, of course, thwarted at the first hurdle by silly prices for parking. I can only imagine the scrum for tables at lunch.

Abandoning the idea pretty pronto, we were soon heading back to the main island. Passing the Eastern Mangroves, it occurred to us a pleasant stroll along the waterfront was just what was needed. I was clicking away with the camera, getting fairly boring pictures of fishermen, when rounding the corner by the hotel we ran into the Dragon Boats teams virtually camped out on the pavement. All these guys, muscles rippling as they paddled, now that made for a much better picture! Who needs super yachts?

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The sport is thought to have originated in China more than 2000 years ago and has been taken up with great enthusiasm here in the UAE. Team names include Desert, Sea and Flying Dragons as well as Barracuda Paddlers and Dubai Diggers.

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The Corniche

18 Nov

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With the temperature now peaking at around 30 degrees in the shade going for a walk has finally become possible. We chose to start at one end of the Corniche for our first of the season and just thought we’d see how far we could get. Not very, as it turned out, shade being a bit on the scarce side for much of the way.

First stop was the marina – of course. Not as big as that on Yas Island and filled with mostly smaller motor boats it still has a sailing club, teaching youngsters in dinghies. The more impressive mobo’s we’d seen going past looked to have come from the nearby Presidential Palace which has a clearly visible marina of its own.

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The climax of the Formula One Grand Prix season is taking place on Yas Island this weekend (not our thing) and the marina end of the Corniche (which is on the Abu Dhabi main island) has been taken up with a “Fanzone” which was still being erected as we walked past.  This will feature live outdoor screenings of the race and various other racing related activities along with an opportunity to buy merchandising, of course. I’m sure it will prove to be very popular but I can’t see us participating. Even so, there is already a buzz about the place in anticipation and even I can wax lyrical on the pros and cons of double points.

However, the Fanzone meant we had to walk along the roadside pavement rather than the shadier beach side which is what rather curtailed our walk. By the time we’d checked out the marina, ogled the Presidential and Emirates Palaces, crossed the bridge and walked along the road it was a blessed relief to find a bit of shade. We didn’t go much further, only making it as far as the public beach where a picturesque pavement cafe tempted us in. Maybe next time we’ll hire a couple of bikes.

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The Public Beach

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A tempting café

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In front of the Emerates Palace beach with the Presidential Palace in the background and the barbed wire to discourage the plebs.

Seychelles Holiday

9 Nov

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From the first glimpse it was apparent our holiday island was very different from the island we call home. From ultra-modern glass towers in the desert we had flown into a lush, green haven from the modern world. One thing was familiar, though, the heat and humidity. Oh, yes, just as Abu Dhabi cools down, we had flown out into a tropical wetness with precious little in the way of air conditioning.

It was something of a culture shock, too. From the modesty and abstinence of the Arabic world to the anything-goes, it’s-five-o’clock-somewhere attitude of the Seychellois took a little getting used to. Well, a few minutes, anyway. Five laughing girls dressed in skimpy summer dresses and lounging in the back of a pick-up truck, beer in hand, at nine in the morning, felt a bit surreal at first. I knew I was going to like this place!

So, a plane journey, a bus and two ferries later and we were in La Digue, a small island of some 10 square kilometres, dragging our cases along the cobbled street to our holiday home, not a chance of a taxi. These are few and far between while the nearest thing to a bus is a converted pick-up truck, also referred to as taxis. Then there are the ox carts. Once a familiar sight, apparently, there are now only a few about and can be put to use for weddings. It sounds romantic but is a bit of a smelly option, if you ask me. Otherwise, everybody, just everybody, goes around on bikes.

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Now me and bikes don’t have the greatest history. However, this was going to be our mode of transport for the duration so, let’s face it, I had to just get on with it. And these weren’t exactly state of the art. A bit rusty with a loose chain that hadn’t seen oil in a long time and a supermarket basket welded on the back, it was still rather fun and a lot cooler than walking everywhere. I was still wobbling and zigzagging at the end of the holiday, decidedly saddle sore and had gained a few bruises.

As you may have gathered, you don’t go to La Digue for luxury living. Homely is perhaps the kindest description. Nor do you expect haute cuisine. However, stick with chicken and fish with the odd pizza and you won’t go far wrong. Probably best to stick to the local beer rather than wine, too. Plus you won’t get a diet drink, other than water, either. But then there is the fruit juice which is well worth piling on the calories for, especially when laced with rum.

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No, what you go to La Digue for is the beaches, picture-postcard beautiful beaches. Most aren’t great for swimming with either vicious currents or just too shallow but the sea temperature is perfect, the fish so laid back you can literally catch one with your bare hands.  Plus you can usually find a bit of shade and a stretch all to yourself. All this and giant tortoises, too.

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I want to lie, shipwrecked and comatose,
Drinking fresh mango juice.
Gold fish shoals nibbling on my toes,
Fun, fun, fun in the sun, sun, sun.
(Howard Goodall)