Yesterday, we travelled to Heathrow airport for our journey out to Dubai. I have always hated Heathrow airport as I feel it sums up the UK completely: cramped and overcrowded, filled with miserable and stressed people, grubby and in need of a facelift! I've always thought this - whether I've been arriving back in London or leaving it. I just don't think it's a very good advert for visitors to this country as it's the first thing they see!
This time, we arrived, with what seemed like a million other people, in the drizzle and precariously balanced all of our stuff (4 suitcases, 4 wheelie cases, 1 buggy and 2 car seats) on the trolley (which incidentally only steered left) whilst trying to hold 2 sleepy children's hands!
However, on the flip side, the one thing which is absolutely cracking at LHR has to be the departure lounge. It is a shoppers paradise - filled with so many shops (luxury and regular) that if you are not careful, you can find yourself staggering to the plane laden with carrier bags full of loot. Gone are the days when you pick up a bottle of whisky and then you are on your way! Yesterday, I stocked up on books (books are pricey in the UAE), Oliver got a new game for his Nintendo and Ella bought . . . oh yes . . . . another cuddly toy.
Tim and I also stocked up on . . . . alcohol! We don't really drink much I have to say, but it's nice to have the odd glass of Pimms in the sun. Buying alcohol here in Dubai is apparently difficult - you need your residence visa (which we haven't got yet) and a place to live before you will be allowed to buy your "alcohol permit" (yes, welcome to the world of no tax where nothing is free). No, don't gasp in horror! You can buy alcohol quite freely in hotels and bars here in Dubai - but personal consumption in your own home appears to be something different . . . .
So, what will we miss from the UK . . . .
1 - family and friends;
2 - familiarity (with everything from how to buy a house, to how to drive on the left);
3 - British TV - especially the Sky+ box; and
4 - internet shopping (for Alice)!
What will we be glad to leave behind . . . . ?
1 - 40% tax;
2 - the weather; and
3 - internet shopping (Tim has to pay the bills)