Before we left the UK, my best friend Janine and I were regularly in tears in anticipation of my departure . . . . so much so that her lovely husband decided to buy her a flight to Dubai. He even bought it before we left, so that we both had something to look forward to! What a star . . . .!!
Anyway, this was the weekend when she came. Janine arrived on Friday morning, following a 7 hour overnight flight, to much squealing and squeaking from me at the airport, whilst the kids just about muttered a "hello" - that was the start of an appalling day's behaviour from them . . . .
Janine decided it was easier to just keep going rather than coming home to bed, so we went to the beach. When we first got there, we witnessed a bit of do . . . the police were on the beach trying to round up a lady. There was a large crowd so we couldn't really see a great deal, but it appears that the "lady" was Russian and rather drunk at 9.40am! She had allegedly had a warning, which she clearly ignored, so the police were called. I was told by the deck-chair man, that she will be "taken to prison until she is normal and then they will wait for an explanation". The inference was that this lady would certainly serve some time . . . . quite how much I don't know, but methinks that a Dubai jail will sober her up fast!
The beach is a strange place here - now, I'm not a personal fan of publishing photos of me on the net, but there is a significance of this photo. Firstly, you will see people like me dressed normally for a beach, but it's very common to see other nationalities on the beach in their black stuff, which incidentally stays on, whether they are just standing on the beach or swimming in the sea!
If you look at the ladies on the right - they turned into quite an annoyance . . .These ladies were part of a larger group - maybe 10 or so in total, and for some reason they decided that they wanted to take photos of our kids. This is quite common here - it bugs the heck out of us, but it happens each time we are at the beach or park. Suddenly, you will see one of our children, smiling away at a camera, with an adult next to them . . . . I even found Ella at the airport talking into a mobile phone of some random person - they thought she was fascinating. Now, before you say we should keep a closer eye on them, people can come and sit next to the kids in a flash of an eye and this is a very non-threatening society - I have talked to numerous people about this behaviour and each time I have been told that it's purely because people love children. But frankly, it annoys us and may cause a problem one day, especially when we return to the UK. Tim told the people to stop and moved the children - the adults then positioned themselves so that they could still get our children in the picture . . . . . he told them to stop again . . . eventually, Tim just moved the kids out of the way of the lens, but he was cross.
We left the beach after a few hours - the children couldn't stop moaning and whining - maybe they were tired, or showing off - but they were just plain horrible! We came back home, via the petrol station, where the man from Costa Coffee comes running out of his little shop to serve you in the comfort of your own car, while of course the petrol attendants are filling your car up with petrol and cleaning your windscreen . . . . it's fabulous being so lazy.
After a swim in our pool, believe it or not, Janine was still up and had some energy, so we went off for dinner. We went to an area called Madinat (a kind of market with loads of restaurants set within hotel district, with waterways running around it) - which is on the coast, close to the famous Dubai icon "The Burj Al-Arab" - seen here in the background.
It was lovely - a bit blowy and chilly still, but we ate outside (not bad for February) and had a lovely view of the area. However, by 10pm, I could see that J was about to fall asleep into her dinner! We came home soon after that.
Incidentally, I did manage to get the guest room sorted out - most of the boxes frankly, have just been moved to my room! However, here is a taster of our spare room should you wish to come and visit - and we hope you will!
The next day, we decided to travel inland to Hatta. Hatta is approximately 100km from Dubai and is in the mountains. We passed some spectacular scenery - moving from dusty Dubai, into spectacular desert scenery to the mountains.
This particular place is called "Big Red" - a very large sand dune over 300 feet high. Its red glow, which is eerie or delightful depending on your point of view, comes from the iron oxide in the sand. Sometimes it seems that the UAE motto is: "if it's sandy, drive up it," and Big Red is no exception to this rule - we saw loads of places renting out quad bikes and you can go up this dune by either bike or 4x4. Next time perhaps.
We hung about at the pool for the day, indulging in a lovely barbeque for lunch. The kids were even adventurous enough to go on a camel!!!
You can see from the scenery, that it really is a lovely place to be . . . . we will certainly be back.
Cramming all that we could into 48 crazy hours, Janine and I then went to the Dubai Jazz Festival - an annual affair, set outside in an amphitheatre. We saw Courtney Pine (jazz saxophonist) and then Robin Gibb (of Bee Gees fame) - it was rather surreal . . . . for one of the acts, everyone lounged around on bean-bags drinking wine, beer or coffee. The picture above is apparently from the Robin Gibb show. I have to confess that we were absolutely exhausted and didn't stay to the end. Janine was flying home the next morning, which meant a 6am start!
We can put on a pretty good show for those people who wish to visit . . . . . just give us a call . . . . .