Archive | December, 2014

Last Day of the Year

30 Dec

image

It’s already the last day of the year here in Abu Dhabi and what an amazing year it’s been. Have fun tonight, everyone. We wish you love, happiness and health for the New Year and may all your dreams and wishes have wings. Neil and Cathy x

image

Advertisements

Does Not Compute

21 Dec

image

Somehow my mind can’t quite accept the idea of sunbathing next to a Christmas tree.

Beautiful Dawn

15 Dec

image

Just as we’re tending to get a bit blasé about yet another sunny day it’s possible to not really notice the sunrise. They happen very quickly here. Some days, though, the colours can take your breath away.

image

Volvo Ocean Race

13 Dec

The crews of the Volvo Ocean Race crossed the finishing line for Leg 2 here in Abu Dhabi today.
Pictures from the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Log (@ADORlog) Twitter feed and modified tweets.

image

Chuny Bermúdez tries to propel Azzam with his superpowers!

image

“More wind ahead!” shouts breeze-spotter Luke Parkinson high up Azzam’s mast.

image

Adil Khalid prepares the UAE national flag as Azzam ticks off the final miles to Abu Dhabi.

image

Azzam hit a crab pot on their approach into port and one of the crew had to go into the water to get it off!

image

Home sweet home for the ADOR crew after more than 3 weeks at sea on Leg 2

image

Adil Khalid proudly steers Azzam across the finish line in third place on Leg 2

Christmas Approaching

10 Dec

image

Abu Dhabi is an excellent place if you want to avoid the whole Christmas shenanigans. In fact it’s quite hard to feel Christmassy at all. Sure there are a few decorations for sale and shopping for clothes is restricted to red, black and gold, as always, but it all seems so artificial and contrived somehow. To be fair, we’ve been down-playing the whole fandango for a few years now but there was always a bit of a buzz. It may have taken us until Christmas Eve to buy a tree but we eventually succumbed. I don’t think we will this year. It’s still in the mid 20’s in the shade, the sky is a perfect blue and the sea warm. It can get a bit chilly in the breeze but nothing a light cardigan can’t put right.

I’ve bought a box of posh mince pies. They are delicious but haven’t done anything to simulate the yuletide mood. Perhaps the problem is the lack of a good Stilton and a drop of port. We’ve booked a meal out with friends on the day itself but really this is just a more expensive version of the popular Friday Brunch. And it’s a working day.

Perhaps it’s different if you have children and are trying to make it special for them. Do they do the whole Christmas thing at school here? I doubt it. Yas Marina is trying to help. They have sprayed the foliage with white foam and filled a small fenced area with white chemical powder along with spongy “snow” balls and plastic snowmen. Your kids can play in the stuff for 20 minutes if you hand over the equivalent of about £5 for each of them.

image

Even so, with all the talk of “weather bombs” back in the UK, I think I’d rather be here.

Celebrating National Day

3 Dec

image

We don’t really do a National Day in the UK, do we? The individual saints’ days flirt with the idea but nothing on the scale of what we were part of last night here in the UAE. A mere 43 years old they are justly proud of what has been achieved since this nation was formed. It seems like every office building, residential tower, hotel and mall competes to see who can put on the best display featuring the colours of the national flag. Even the cranes are draped in red, green, white and black. And everybody wants to celebrate. It’s not just the local Emirates either. This nation that welcomes everybody seems to inspire the expats, too

image

Friends who have been here longer warned us to keep away from the Corniche. Of course, that is where we wanted to be, along with just about everybody else in the city. The atmosphere was buzzing. From the early morning whole families were setting up camp on any patch of grass in the vicinity they could find. Everything from rugs and camping chairs to shisha pipes and cool bags were laid out. By the evening every open space resembled a music festival – only without the mud.

In recent years a tradition has developed of decorating your car and driving along the multi-lane highway that runs the length of the main island’s beach area. Somewhere along the way spray foam and silly string got involved. The result is nothing short of delightful mayhem. To a cacophony of horns the traffic gradually grinds to a halt as children run among the cars spraying the exterior and any occupants willing to lower their windows. The same occupants also give as good as they get. It all culminates with fireworks on the beach.

image

We savoured the good natured chaos for a couple of hours before deciding our best course was to retreat to a bar on the 62nd floor with a view over the beach where the fireworks would be lit. It also turned out to be happy hour with half price cocktails and champagne. A few Pimms later and it became apparent I could probably do with more than popcorn and soggy fruit to eat and we transferred to a hotel serving food – where it just happened to be Ladies Night i.e. free house beverages for the female of the species. Why on earth didn’t we stay until closing?

image

A few words with the doorman convinced us we didn’t have the proverbial cat’s chance of picking up a taxi from the hotel. Nor, it turned out, anywhere else nearby either. With dehydration rapidly setting in, my tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth and brain shrinkage causing that familiar ache across the frontal lobe, we eventually got lucky around 1am and a four mile walk later. What a great night, though.

image

Nothing moving on the roads below us and all taxis keeping well away.

image

Feel like a dance? No problem just get out of the car and dance on the highway!

National Day

2 Dec

image

43 years ago today a nation was born. Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi became the first leader of the United Arab Emirates. Good choice. He believed women were vital to the development of the nation and invested oil revenues into projects to improve the harsh desert environment.

We’ll be celebrating and wearing the colours of the flag with everybody else.