Friday, 5 October 2012

Dubai Drama Group Opening Night of "The Complete Works Of William Shakespere ( Abridged)"

Could I say that the Theatre Season has kicked off?
Last week we had the Backstage "crew" and this week the Dubai Drama Group.

The sublime (see here for a review of last weeks "A Few Good Men") to the delightfully ridiculous "Complete Works of Billy Wobbledagger" (there is a thirteen year old in all of us) that  condenses thirty seven plays into two and a bit hours. Reader's Digest eat your heart out! As an aside, and totally off the point, when did using wikipedia become so totally unfashionable? Just asking.......
Our evening started with a visit to the optician. Actually it did not start with that but if I told you about the other thing then I would never get to the theatre thing.
Those of you who are friends with Bryan on Facebook will know that he has  suffered  the indignity of getting reading glasses. Having worn glasses since I was a teen I am not really terribly sympathetic. Off we trot. Me to get new spectacles that will enable me to navigate my life, and a pair of "very sexy on anyone but me" sunglasses to replace the ones I left in Cape Town in May and Bryan to collect his aforementioned reading glasses. Armed with our new toys (how sad) we found our way to DUCTAC for the opening night of the show. We had the very good fortune of nabbing two of the last four tickets on sale. Word to the wise. GET YOUR TICKETS NOW! 
Bryan was in heaven. he could  actually read the programme.
Anyway, back to my favourite way to start the weekend. A night at the Theatre.

Director, Brent Jenkins, made a very savvy choice in his play. Judging by the show of hands in the audience it is safe to say that most people from most walks of life and corners of the Globe are familiar with Shakespeare. A director with a mind to getting bums in seats should do well with a title that alludes to The Bard. Once that director has you firmly in his clutches he can have the most fun throwing all your preconceived notions of the seriousness of Shakespeare out the window. And Brent did. A great script teamed with lively direction and good acting entertained the enthusiastic audience for the entire show.

I particularly enjoyed the reaction of the teenage man boys sitting in front of us. They were almost as delightful to watch as the actors. The innocence of their shocked, slightly nervous laughter turning into rolling about belly laughing at Juliet's comically tragic suicide (on discovering the death of her beloved Romeo) was a treat all on its own.
The play can be described as an interactive, scripted piece that allows for a degree of improvisation. Latecomers were not spared the humorous digs of the cast and in turn the audiences laughter. If you don't want to be the butt of a joke don't be late!
The cast (for thirty seven plays remember) consists of three men and a few unsuspecting audience members. Often, in this particular play, the actors play themselves. In this production Toby Masson, Gordon Torbet and Cliff Single took the parts of the players performing the assorted roles. And they did a very good job of it too. The script is fast paced, and that, combined with the opportunity for a bit of improvisation, means that the actors have to have their wits about them for every second of the show. They cannot lose the plot. When you are acting as hacks you absolutely cannot afford to be hackish or the whole things falls flat. Our actors held that script together with charming skilful humour. Often crass charm. There is lots of toilet humour and eye rolling and sighing and dramatic luvvy sulking.
I would have had a bit more nuance between when the actors  are playing the players and playing the Shakespearean characters. Just a subtle thing for me. Maybe the use  of the American accents was used to highlight the differences between the actors and the Shakespearean characters? It did not work for me. The accents were okay-ish but not needed. Except the Scottish accents for the Scottish play. That was essential. As were the accents in the Rap number. Now you know you have to see the show..... Rap in Shakespeare?

Cliff Single plays Jess the touted (non-expert) expert on Shakespeare who tries valiantly to add a bit of culture to the proceedings and I can happily report that he completely fails to add even an ounce of culture to the show. The path of the purist is a lonely one. A great performance.
Toby Masson's untiring, energetic performances had me wondering if he collapsed in a tiny heap after the show from sheer physical exhaustion. He was here. He was there. He was like that Damned Scarlet Pimpernel and was bloody everywhere! Go Toby!
Gordon Torbet, I think, played most of the female roles, or was it just that he did it so badly (in the best way I promise) that I remember him for that? Either way he does not look good in a blond wig and no one would ever mistake him for a gal, not even on a moonless night in a shadowy dark alley. I am just saying. What he did do exceptionally well was slip into a short soliloquy which was the only serious moment in the entire production. He took the audience from laugh out loud to serious in a skilfully crafted shift in gears. Thank you for that moment.
We loved the show. The audience loved the show. We laughed. We laughed some more. If you want to share in the laughter go to the Theatre THIS WEEKEND. Don't delay. The run is short, ending on the 6th October.

Promotional pieces for the show are found in  7 days (my go-to newspaper for the REAL news) , the the Nationaland in explorer.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Backstage (in Dubai) opening night of "A Few Good Men"

Find show info here on face book: Back Stage Event: A Few Good Men

Find a promo piece from the National here : The National A Few Good Men

Find a promo piece from 7 days here : 7daysindubai a few good men

Find a video showing the differences between Aaron Sorkin's stage play and the screenplay for A FEW GOOD MEN.

Currently on TV you can watch The News Room also scripted by Aaron Sorkin.

Please hurry if you want to see the show as there are only a few performances and they end on the 29th September. You snooze and you will loose!

“A Few Good Men” opened last night at DCTAC to a full house.

After a long hard week and fighting the usual Dubai rush hour traffic I was ready to be carried away by the magic that is Theatre.

The Backstage production of this military court drama was one of the best they have done.

It is brave to take on a play that is set in the Public’s mind by a good movie version. They did it well. The actors brought their own characterization to the parts and made them their own. The cast were well rehearsed, word perfect and delivered their performances with confidence. This allowed the audience to relax and engage in the plot.

Gautam Goeka’s direction is improving with each show he takes on.  The cast members who were rough and ready beginners a few shows ago have become more comfortable and natural on the stage.  This shows’ crop of first timers or first timers with Backstage brought with them invigorating performances that were a delight to watch.

Raghd Coussa  playing the cocky Lt. Daniel Kafee gets a special mention from me because, not only did he give a warm and convincing portrayal of his character,  he is a fellow Zimbabwean so I was  inexplicably  super pleased with him. I wanted to go and give him a hug and say “well done you”. Of course that would have been way weird. Go Zimbos!

Caroline Fernandez as Lt Com. Joanne Galloway played a great counter point to the Daniel Kaffee character. She got it spot on!  I loved her eyes. They were so expressive.

Chris Morton gave a great performance taking on the role of Lt. Col. Nathan Jessup.  A daunting undertaking competing with the memorable performance that Jack Nickolson gave in the movie version. Great timing and control meant that he did not fall into the trap of going over the top in the climactic court scene.

Ahmed Rabieth as Lt Sam Weinberg side kick to Kaffee, Pratyush Ghuwewla  playing Pvt Loudon Downey, the simple grunt caught up in the madness and  Majoe Mathew as  Capt. Julius Alexaner Randolph  all gave delightful special performances.

The costumes were great. The make-up was not. Someone really has to explain to men that that theatre lights suck the life out of your face and you HAVE to wear make-up to counteract this. If you don’t you look sick which worked for the character of Pvt Loundon Downey (poor thing  I  just wanted to take him home feed him a comforting  meal and tell him everything was going to be all right) but not so much for Lt Sam Weinberg.

Backstage gets so little set up time in the Theater and it affects some of the technical aspect of the show. Come on DUCTAC give the Amateur Dramatists a break. If the theatre is not in use let them have a few free days to properly set lights and install the stage and rehearse. Just saying……  Anyway away from my side rant. I would have arranged the set a little differently so that the set changes would be quicker. I would have set some wash lights on the back wall to break the line and I would have used area mood lighting to make more use of the stage space.

The music that was used was well chosen and well placed. It would have been good to have some walk in music in a similar vein to set the mood.

Overall we had a great night out. YAY! Thanks to the Backstage Gang for their continued passion in delivering live amateur Drama to Dubai.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Friday, 24 August 2012

Driving In Dubai

On a regualar basis our local press give us a story about the antics of drivers in Dubai and what the police are doing to address the problem.  Here is the latest offering. 7 days and below.

A motorist has been busted after tearing around Dubai in a souped-up 4x4 that had been altered to run on aircraft fuel.

It is illegal to modify a vehicle in the emirate without permission from transport authorities, but that did not stop the young Emirati from ramping up his SUV so that it could reach a staggering 350kph - the same speed as a Formula One car.
As well as being fitted with a tank of jet fuel, the 4x4 was also kitted out with a special computer and gas cylinders.
Wacky racer who modified his motor to hit 350kph is caught
  1. ​Wacky racer who modified his motor to hit 350kph is caught

The driver was arrested by Dubai Traffic Police after they spotted him racing through the city at night and gave chase.
General Mohammad Saif Al Zafeen, head of Dubai Traffic Police, said: “The car was speeding like crazy and was a danger to other road users. It was also making a lot of noise and disturbing residents.”
He added: “The driver was racing against another vehicle.”
Al Zafeen said the wacky racer was first seen on Al Khawaneej Road, adding that the driver slowed down as he approached a roundabout and police tried to pull the car over.
However, Al Zafeen said the driver turned off his headlights and sped off.
Officers saw the vehicle pull into the driveway of a villa in Al Mizhar, where they arrested the driver.
“The owner of the villa was surprised, telling us he didn’t know the driver and hadn’t given him permission to come onto his property,” Al Zafeen said. “He asked us to take the vehicle away.”
The motorist claimed the modifications were worth Dhs250,000 but a garage in Dubai had done them for free. “The garage did it to attract customers,” said Al Zafeen.
The case has been referred to Dubai Traffic Prosecution. The fine for illegally modifying a car is Dhs400.

Get the same story  from a more reputable paper gulfnews -hollywood style chase leads to racers arrest
Stunt Driving in Dubai

Not knowing much about stunt driving and whilst not wanting to condone this behaviour on our public roads there must be a high level of skill involved. Not that the skill level makes the behaviour any less dangerous. Just saying...

This clip takes place on my route home from work. youtube - Stunt driving in Dubai

A story about stunt driving from a couple of months ago: Crazy-stunt-drivers-

Police send out strong warning against stunt driving after deaths in Saudi Arabia
Two years ago footage of drivers performing stunts on Sheikh Zayed Road surfaced on YouTube sheikh Zayed Road Stunt Driving

This is the latest.......
The police warn students about Car stunts to celebrate the end of term

           ​Students who perform dangerous car and motorbike stunts to celebrate the end of the school year will have their vehicles confiscated, Abu Dhabi Police has warned
Students who perform dangerous car and motorbike stunts to celebrate the end of the school year will have their vehicles confiscated, Abu Dhabi Police has warned


Tuesday, 21 August 2012

A Lazy day with a recipe at the end. ( muchroom rosotto)

A few weeks ago ( well longer actually) I started this post and then sort of did not finish it. So here it is finished:
Bryan was Cairo. I did not know when he was coming home because he left his phone in Muscat, Oman . Oh here I go I cannot tell the short story because well then it is not a story it is a series of tiny events that end in a tiny end.  So let me start at the beginning. Bryan went to Muscat for business and when his business was over he went to visit his Aunt Erica. He left his phone in her car when he was dropped off at the airport for his trip home.  He was due back in Dubai and then was going on to Cairo the next day. His flight was delayed so Bryan got home after midnight and had to catch a plane early the next morning to go to Cairo. Rush, rush, etc and off  Bryan went at 5-ish in the morning. He had a new sim card but he did not give me the number (rush, rush you see) and it did not occur to me that he OBVIOUSLY got a replacement sim so would have the same number...... DUH.
So there I was  with the day stretching ahead of me and not knowing if I should make plans and head out or hang around waiting for him to arrive back from his trip.
I decided that I would stay home and have a lazy pampering day "in house" I woke up late. Yay. I made a pot of tea and lay in bed (turning over occasionally) reading Nora Efrons I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman (2006).  HEAVEN. This is a "gobbled up book". It is a delightful, quirky, funny, self deprecating book that I really did not want to put  down 'til I had finished it. And that is why when I finally  rolled out of bed  it was so late in the day that I can't even tell you what time it was - for shame.
After having  a revitalising shower, I had an attack of energy that had me in a flurry of grooming. I scrubbed my feet and my hands and slathered on this cream and that unguent. I filed and buffed and clipped and polished my nails till they looked like they had spent the morning at a spa. And then I pondered how stupid it all was. Not that I will henceforth cease to groom toes and fingers. It sounds silly just reading that sentence doesn't it?
I was still feeling energetic and I remembered (suddenly - as one does) that my friend Michelle had bogged on her blog (eons ago)  that she made risotto and I really liked the idea of cauliflower risotto. So cooking rice had been floating about in my mind for some weeks and I thought "ah ha I will make a cauliflower risotto." But I didn't  have any cauliflower in the house so I made Mushroom risotto instead.

Mushroom Risotto
Risotto is one of those dishes that I am always suspicious of. The balance between porridge goop and subtle ecstatic flavour is a very fine one. As it happened the dish was lovely. So I will share the recipe. Simple really.
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups flavorful mushrooms such as shiitake, chanterelle, or oyster mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and cut into half inch to inch pieces
  • 2/3 cup brandy, vermouth, or dry white wine
  • 5-6 cups chicken stock ( I always have my own home made  in the freezer and think this makes a big difference)
  • 1/3 cup of peeled and minced shallots (OR 1/3 cup of yellow or white onion, finely chopped)
  • 1 3/4 cups  risotto rice
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley or chives
1 Bring stock to a simmer in a saucepan.
2 Melt the butter in a deep, heavy, medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and shallots and sauté about 5 minutes till soft and glassy. Add the rice and stir to combine.

You need a bit of patience as it can take up to 25 minutes of careful stirring, and every few minutes adding  hot stock to the rice, as the rice slowly absorbs the liquid it's in. TA DA.

I tidied up the kitchen. I looked at the clock. Evening was approaching. Still no Bryan. I ate the risotto. Still no Bryan. I watched a bit of TV and started reading my next book. Still no Bryan. I went to bed. Bryan arrived home way late. So it goes.

How big (and small) is EVERYTHING!

Once a year - at least- it is a good idea to check out THE WONDER OF IT ALL. It is great to be reminded of  how big stuff is and how small stuff is.

The below, first clip, dates back to the 70's and is great because the power of 10 is shown through out the film on the screen. The size is amazing. I can wonder at it and get what it conveys in essence - but (to quote Winne the Poo)  "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me." or in this case long numbers, so I am simply impressed and blown away.

Power of ten (big and small) This will take up 10 minutes of your year.

If you liked that and want more info on the same here you go :

The clip below is lovely to listen to. It is in a similar vain as the first but is shorter ( 5 minutes) and goes macro but not micro. Cosmic voyage - the power of ten - Morgan Freeman's voice

Now if you have reached this far. You deserve a drink. Here is the power of 10 Mojito!!!!!!! My favourite alcoholic beverage as you have never seen it before: A Mojito for the nerd in you.

And this just because it is so pretty and awesome and stuff. Hubble Telescope - space journey another 10 minutes of your day. But worth it - really truly it is.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Brave - The Cartoon Movie

So, have you all taken you daughters to see Brave? Were you horrified?

Did you hear that it was  a Girl Power movie about a feisty heroine. Her "old-as-time" love hate relationship with her mother. The problem of what society expected for and of her and how she overcomes it all?

Well it was all of that. But it also sent such a mixed message that I would think twice about showing it to impressionable children who might  fall for the codswallop actually portrayed.

I am, as you know, a fan of mindless entertainment. Bring on the senseless violence of Manly Movies,  the simpering Chick Flicks, the Cute Cartoons and all the rest. I enjoy them all  enormously without judging or caring about silly things like gaps in logic, rational or character development. It is, after all, entertainment. But Brave  got me all bent out of shape. The story at best was mildly entertaining and at worst sent a dangerous message.

Our heroine is a beautiful feisty tomboy. Her father , The King is a bit of a dolt, "ask your mother" overgrown Man Boy sort, good ol' guy. Mum is serene and in charge and strong. Her brothers  are cute brats. The rest of the cast are predictably one dimensional bla, bla, bla.

Tradition expects a wedding.  Our Heroine is not happy,  she is cross with her mum. "Why mum?" She might ask. Because she clearly rules the roost darlings. Lovingly and condescendingly.

The prospective beaus arrive. Enter three simpering twerps in three guises. The Arrogant, The Lump of Meat and the Clumsy Klutz.

So far the gals are looking strong and in control and the guy's...... well sorry chaps you are a bunch of losers. Even those of you who aren't losers sort of really are.

The message I got was that our heroine was a typical teen on a sulk (okay with that) she did not want to marry yet, although I got the idea that maybe if one of those beaus had been enough of a "Knight in Shining Armour type" she would have given up her independence in a flash.  You know the bit when she meets her prospective grooms... Well our heroine was not shown one man that was not an idiot. If I was presented with a bunch of fools, by my fool of a father and his foolish friends I would also want to be single forever. What  dreadful characterisations this film created of men. Another idea that niggled was that - maybe if one of the potential bridegrooms ticked all the right Prince Charming boxes then the arranged marraige would be just fine. Maybe that is why no reasonably attractive fella was on offer? Is it that girls only need Girl Power when there is an absence of Boy Power? Why can't our feisty Princess stand shoulder to shoulder with a feisty Prince  or two without having to marry him? If the point is about choosing your destiny and breaking with tradition then that should not be dependent on the quality of the men on offer.

Our heroines relationship with her mother was hackneyed, of course, and hey that is okay for this sort of entertainment.Sadly that combined with the charmingly grim presentation of how utterly hopeless  the men in her world are our heroine is doomed to the exact fate as her mother. Ergo, she would absolutely land up marrying some ass to get away from her lovingly controlling mother  and perpetuate another generation of women who politely disdain and tolerate  men. 

That is obviously not what happened  in the cartoon but really by the time I had realised with jaw dropping astonishment  what sad characterisations  are deemed okay for a Girl Power movie  I was beyond caring. In any case the plot was pretty weak. I am  sure your three and four year olds will love it and no harm done. But if you want your sons to respect girls and your daughters to respect boys don't take children of school going age  to see this cartoon unless that child has a  sophisticated enough palate for irony.

Having thoroughly slated the movie - the graphics are very good. But  the overall prettiness and easy story  do not overcome my discomfort.  And really I am not often niggled by the "message" in a movie. I take them at face value generally.

Bryan watched the movie too. He was not bothered.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Art as a playground or is it craft as a playground?

You may or may not know that I am a bit of a crochet fan. And knitting and embroidery bla, bla, bla. I am not terribly skilled but I am enthusiastic and over the years have needle worked my way through crises and happiness and found calm in the repetitive nature of these crafts.

And look what I found on pinterest: It is just so whimsically out of the box creative thinking that I want to climb inside her head.


Friday, 6 July 2012

The Cape Town Trip Part TWO

The Fandamily and Cameron's Party Part of the Trip to Cape Town

The first thing we did when we arrived in Cape Town was PHONE THE SONS. During the course of the phone calls we bribed them with  the promise of  free food and drink. A few hours later we met up with them for supper at a delightful slightly seedy Mexican restaurant in Cameron's neighbourhood called The fat cactus. Lots of catching up jabbering  and drinking and dinnering took place. SIGH. The mother in me was very pleased that both my boys were in the pink of good health. Although, my first born, Philip was looking a  bit cold. His whole winter wardrobe  and a lovingly crochet blanket ( made  by me ) was in the Emirates Cargo Store waiting to be collected.  Mind you, I do think that Philip may not feel the cold in the same way as the rest of us. He spent  his first winter in Cape Town with a duvet cover on his bed. Please note that I did not say anything about a duvet inner.......

Reunited with offspring.

The next day a series of delightful coincidences occurred. We crawled out of bed having had already consumed the complimentary “starter pack” that was available in the cottage so had to head out for FOOD and something  warm for me to wear, I was freezing.
We went to  Cavendish Square because it was nearby and we know it and we knew that there would be Internet access at the Mugg & Bean. As we arrived at M & B who do we see but Bryan's cousin wife Lorna with her daughter Kerryn. Now we knew that they would be in Cape Town and had made semi arrangements to meet up. But here they were, great minds obviously thinking alike etc. So we stopped with them for a bit and caught up on lots of lovely family and general  what you catch up on stuff. The Olivier’s went off on their way so I left Bryan at the coffee shop catching up on his work and went in search  of warm clothes. After a semi successful shop getting warm leggings and a scarf I went back to join Bryan to find him nattering away merrily to his mother, Cecily, and her cousin Justine. Now,  I assumed that Bryan had called his mum and they had come and joined him. But no, they just happened to be passing by and bumped into Bryan. Well, well. That was the 2nd random meeting in half a day. So we had another lovely catch up. Cecily and Justine went off and I left Bryan once more to go and do some provisions shopping at Woolies. When it comes to grocery shopping there is the most amazing variety here in Dubai. There really is and it is lovely but there is no Woolies Foods. It is a big sadness in my little life. I have not come across a better store here. I have not come across one that comes close. Anyway I am being side tracked. How unusual. After a successful grocery shop ,which included me returning a great many things to the shelves because “Really, really Penny  do you HAVE to have every yummy thing you see?” (that is me talking to myself), I returned to Bryan who was still pounding his laptop and sipping endless  cups of coffee.  He was very smug. He had been beavering away when a waiter drew his attention to the fact that there was a couple sitting across the coffee shop from him trying to get his attention. Bryan had bumped into friends from Zim (Nigel and Claire Turner whose son, Daniel, was at school with our's) who were in Cape Town for  a few days bla, bla, bla.  And it did not end there, on another visit. The Mugg and Bean  having become Bryan's Office for the duration of shopping expeditions to cloth sons and stock up on Oma Rusks and other ESSENTIALS. We bumped into our eldest  and then our Youngest - and got to buy them breakfast.

Where the World Meets?
Obviously if you want to see the world go by, get down to Cavendish Shopping Centre in Cape Town and plonk yourself down at the Mugg and Bean for a few hours.

The next few days were a whirlwind of family arriving in the form of  my Mum, my beloved Sis-In-Law , Bryan’s Niece and Nephew, settling in’s and catching up. This was interspersed with me forcing people to be tourists. All undertaken  with much vehicle juggling as between us we had three small cars and not everyone was in the same place at the same time, all the time.

Cameron's girlfriend Samantha had her Graduation the same week we arrived and her parents were in town for the occasion. One of the drawbacks of being expats is that you don't get to meet most of your children's friends terribly often and you don't get to meet there parents and considering that Samantha has been in our lives for some time is is a crying shame that we had not met her family and not seen much of her. This was a perfect opportunity to get together. The only person missing was Sam's sister, Daniella. We had dinner in a delightful quirky Italian  restaurant  Bardelli's on Kloof Street. It is right in the old Rosenhof house estate. It was one of the original homes in Cape Town and goes back to the early 1700’s. It was used as a hire house in the 1800’s and the first appointed astronomer to the Cape lived in the house and observed from a hut in the garden.  The atmosphere was warm and convivial and just right for a cosy evening out.  

Cameron had opted to hold his Birthday Celebration at a Student Pub hang out called Neighbourhood.

 This elicited groans from everyone over the age of twenty five. The braver souls of the older generation (Julie) and those that had no choice (Bryan and I) went to the party dragging our barely legal niece and too young nephew with us.

The party was lovely. Cameron’s friends are delightful.  They scolded Bryan when they felt he had let the bar tab go on too long.

I behaved badly.

Bryan has a party trick - more like a party dare. He encourages people to drink a Mexican Omelet. When Bryan does it, before you even start, you feel a bit ill because he goes on and on about the egg and were it has been before it got into your grubby paw. That would be in a chook's bottom, by the way. I did not do that. but I did hijack Bryan’s party stunt by I simply getting the more foolish of Cameron’s friends (and Cameron) to do the following. The “volunteers” were all given a whole (complete with shell) raw egg. They were given a shot glass of tequila. What I told them to do (and they did) with all that equipment is this- put the whole egg in the mouth. Crack the egg inside the mouth swallow and chase it with the tequila shooter. One has to be careful not to swallow the egg shell. Spit the left-over eggshell into the now empty shot glass. Slam the glass onto the bar counter and feel like a hero. So I got the party goers to do that. WHOOOO HOOOO and then because I had consumed a few drinks myself (by then) I showed them how a middle aged woman does it.

No one has ever accused Bryan and I of being stand up responsible Citizen’s with regard to the care of young people. So it is just as well that Bryan’s Niece and Nephew are responsible and being such Tarry was able to drive her inebriated two Aunties home. This is the reward parents and other close relatives get for years of teenage hood or so I am led to understand. It has to be said that of the two Aunts I was the considerably more inebriated one. Julie was supportive.
The following day we had a birthday lunch  at Harbour house in Kalk Bay for the geriatric contingency (no disrespect to you old codgers of course) which now easily included (in post spirit anyway) every member of the family from the night before.

What we did not have at the lunch (for some time) was the Birthday Boy who had received a message  on the day of his party saying that he had to go to the University the  next day to do some sort of presentation for the Township Debating League. It is a not for profit community organisation, that he is involved with on campus.

Elder son Philip looked like something dreadful had befallen him. It turns out he was drinking many of Cameron’s drinks. He said it was so that Cameron would not be a wreck the next day for is his TDL thing  - but I am not convinced.

The Birthday lunch was in a truly lovely spot. The view of sea around Kalk Bay was delightful. We saw a whale!  We spent a lovely day sitting for a great many hours around the table just soaking up being with family and nattering. Bryan gave a sweet speech we drank champagne and we gently rolled out into the evening going our separate ways to recover from our various excesses.



So People that was the reason for our holiday. We no longer have babies. We have adult children. BUGGER!

Next installment will cover all the totally touristy things that we did.


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Man Mall

I was at the Times Square Centre . By the by, what is the difference between a Mall and a Shopping Centre? Are there rules?)  We were driving past and decided that it would be a good idea to stop for a bite of lunch ( on account of growling stomachs) and to look at camera accessories for Bryans just past Birthday ,which I kind of forgot but that is a whole other story. I was thinking in terms of a tripod. Bryan was thinking in terms of a great big wide angle telescopic lens thing. HUMMMMMM.

So this is a question for the Dubai-ite Shoppers. Have you been to Times Square recently?
It has become Dubai’s “Man Mall”. Have you noticed? I don’t think the Management of the Mall has. Their web site has a lovely lady like feel to it. But, when you go to the mall it is wall to wall Man Shops. What with the big Sharaf Electronic Outlet,  Adventure HQ ( I so, so, so, want to do that suspended up in the air climbing thing. Not so keen on the climbing wall as I have creaky  bones and I am not 18 anymore……. )  Intersport and the car accessories shop, it must be Man Shopping Heaven. And there is the bonus that the center is not too big so men can’t be annoyed by too much in the way of retail outlet options.
There are a few things missing. They need:
 A furniture shop that sells items only in glass, leather and chrome.

A barber shop.

A Bar
A hardware shop that sells things like diesel powered saws and torches.

They have what appears to be a rather under-utilized ice cafĂ© where you sit on blocks of ice in subzero temperatures having, I presume, hot chocolate and wondering "WHY?" I suggest that they would do well to have waitresses  wearing short fur fringed skirts and pointy  thigh high, high heeled  fur trimmed boots to attract a more masculine clientele who would come scurrying into the freezer to enjoy the view and to cool down after an exciting time on the climbing wall. Or just turn it into a bar.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Cape Town Trip - Part ONE getting there

Did I mention that we were going to Cape Town?

This was to celebrate Cameron's Birthday. We could not go closer to his birthday as he was in the middle of exams and we were told that "It would really, really not be a good time for you to be here. I need to study and stress in peace" Well, he did not actually say the bit about the "stress" and "in peace" but I am sure that it is what he meant. We asked Cameron when we could come and celebrate with him. He gave us dates - so we organised ourselves. Well sort of: The truth is that Bryan's Aunt, Justine, sent us a recommendation. I made a halfhearted attempt at getting it arranged and then Julie (Bryan’s sister) came to the rescue and arranged all the accommodation with the recommended place that came from Justine. In fact Julie was the all-round getting it done gal.

If you are planning to get down to Cape Town I am very happy to recommend Hame Cottages. Hame link one and Hame Cottages link 2 . Jess will have a combination of accommodation that will suit you - I am sure. We had sun birds and squirrels in the garden. Easy access to everything we needed to be near. It was lovely. So much better than a generic hotel were you could be just about anywhere in the world  and not know the difference unless you went outside. Hame Cottages have a warm old fashioned feel that is so typical of the dwellings of the town, when it was a little newer than it is now. Sprung wooden floors, brass door knobs, old wooden window frames, and pretty flowers in the garden. You get the picture.

The Granny's were coming. The cousins were coming. The Bad Influence Aunt was coming. Cameron's birthday was a go.

Two days before Departure Day I put my back out. In two places. Not at all serious of course but terribly painful. I felt very, very sorry for myself and what with a holiday looming with the possibility of me being bent doubled over, I was a sulky pup. Let me rephrase that I was a sulky hag.

As you know I get a bit weird once I get into travel mode and this trip  was no exception.....Where did I put my passport? By the way in the obvious place: - the bottom of a wicker basket lying on its side in my wardrobe..... Need I say more? Did I leave the stove on? Would we find out, when we went to pick up the hire car that not only had the hire been cancelled, mysteriously, but we had been banned from ever hiring a car, ever again, anywhere in the universe. Would I cease to exist if I left my safe zone? What is my safe zone? AAARRRRGH. Much internal angst and heavy breathing and needing reassurance and not getting it went on as Bryan was being Bryan and rising above my mania. In Bryan's defence (I think) if he had been all care and attention I would probably have swallowed him whole and spat him out in little bits of fear and anger. I was 50% fine once we had picked up the car. Whew it was there, ready and waiting, just like the Herz person said it would be. I was 100% fine when we arrived at Hames Cottages and we were nestled into what would be our pozzie for the next 10 days.

The Couple that Bryan and I are is not very good at pre-planning holidays. Bryan does not care one way or the other if it is planned to within an inch of its time frame or left totally to chance. Whilst I really do meant to pre-plan ,because I know how great it is when you do. Sadly work and life kind of creep up on me. When I get to the stage that I think" EEEEK I have to get this ALL done" I can't because I am having to make sure that I can go on holiday with a clear conscience re  my office work. I am sure many of you are familiar with and can relate to this refrain. Those of you who aren't and can't must all just go and jump in a big wet body of water. Preferably a cold one. Like a lake. I am sounding bitter so must stop ranting. I think.

I have a lot to say so I will give it to you in instalments....... Tune in some time in the not too distant future for more of the same. With PICTURES if I can wrestle them out of Bryan’s camera.

Friday, 1 June 2012

A reason to love Abu Dhabi - Treasures of the Worlds Cultures Exhibition

The Saadiyat Island  in Abu Dhabi has  these really super cool ( if you are a museum kind of a family - which we totally are) exhibitions a couple of times a year.

Today we went to the Treasures of the World's Cultures Exhibition. Many hours of heavenly delight spent  cooing at beautiful things.

There were some pretty cool walrus ivory chess pieces and I thought "ooh I want those. I will take up chess for those." It them occurred to me that I had that exact sentiment before. Watching Harry Potter. So as soon s I got home I googled "my" chess pieces and sure enough the cute, cute, cute, chess pieces in Harry Potter are modelled on the Lewis Chess pieces some of which were part of the exhibition.

Pretty waves  with Mt Fuji in the distance? Look more closely.  Bit grim really.
Under the Wave, off Kanagawa. By Katsushika Hokusai

My favourite thing for sure was a too old to tell you sculpture of  one dog lovingly tugging at the ear of another dog with her teeth.
Hounds of Lazio, Italy

There were around 200 pieces of the most beautiful things from all over the world. I was in heaven. I stood next to a Picasso, a Rembrandt, A Michelangelo.

 If you are in Abu Dhabi or Dubai really do yourselves a favour and go. Click here for information  Treasures_of_the_Worlds_Cultures Look around the site as they often have related guided activities for children and others for adults and yet other for teens.

Last year we went to the Wonders of Mesopotamia Exhibition and learnt to write on clay tablets in cuneiform. Laugh if you must but I bet you can't write you name in an ancient text.

There is a restaurant at the venue with a great menu of yummylisious food and the added bonus of being licenced , if I am not mistaken. Click here for details fanr-restaurant. When in Abu Dhabi i like to vist Fanr. In Winter the garden is a delight. Bit too hot in summer to be out doors. I love their lemon and Mint Soda.

Currently running over 2011 and 2012  is the  Talking Art Series of talks by terribly knowledgeable people covering a delightful mix of artistic subjects. This is being done in conjunction with the  Agence France  - Museums and Ecole Du Louvre.

Switch - the Trailer

So you may remember that Bryan had a small part in a Chinese movie in which he played a gangster?

 According to Bryan the highlight of his performance  (and  to be honest I was not sure he was telling the truth) was spending an inordinate amount of time  eating cherries and cream out of the belly button of a bodacious blond babe.

It seems that he was telling the truth and not making up fantastical porkers.

Fresh out of Cannes 2012, the trailer for the big-budget Chinese blockbuster “Switch” (AKA “Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains”) starring Andy Lau, has been released. Pre-release buzz suggested the film was something like a Chinese-language take on “Mission: Impossible” but the trailer itself is a whole lot darker and stranger than anything we were expecting:

The trailer is out.  Bryan is in it. Don't blink or you wont see him:

 click on this link to see Bryan's 2 seconds of fame.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Colds and Awards Nights and 39 Steps

EEEK this is almost a month old and I am only posting it now! It’s been a bit rushed since we got back.
We arrived home. Yes I am calling Dubai home. Do you know that we have lived in our rented apartment on the Palm now for longer than we have lived anywhere since we got married. Twenty four years a few weeks ago by the by. We are both still relatively sane?  anyway - if that is not home, I don't know what is. Well a far more romantic way of viewing home is to say that home is where Bryan ( the heart) is. This is all very well  but I need a geographical  space to label.

the heart in home

Anyway, I am once again being side tracked. We arrived home at some ungodly hour in the morning and Bryan promptly went in to work. I thought "bugger this I am  going to sleep because I am wise" and was tired after delayed flights and other bits and bobs.
So having been essentially  been travelling from 4 pm on  a Tuesday  arriving in Dubai at 5am on  a Wed and going straight to work and then on to a rehearsal for 39 Steps.  By Thursday Bryan looked like he had the bubonic plague. Well, what I imagine one would look like if one had it. NOT GOOD. Then he informed me that we had to go to his Theatre Group’s award’s evening. Never mind that he was sick or that his body had pretty much forgotten what a sleep was. He had been nominated twice and no matter how ill he was he was going and being supportive of his "crew". I , with extremely bad grace( in my head not out loud) Got Ready To Go.
I did not dress up  in Bells and Whistles mode as I was not told to. At three seconds to the time that the awards were due to start  Bryan leaped up ( well groggily clawed his way to the wardrobe) and put on his DJ. I sulked even more and asked icily  “Did the invite call for formal wear?” Bryan was non-committal which can mean anything from “Yes it did.” to  “No it did not,  I am just following my heart.”  to “I can’t remember and I don’t care.” I said “ You know, Bryan, the only time one wears a DJ is when the invitation says formal and if one ( that would be you)  wears it at any other time You Will Look Like A Complete Wally.” What. Was. I. Thinking? I  know  very well that looking like a wally (or not) is of absolutely no concern to Bryan.  I,  on the other hand, was a tad concerned that I would look like "The Wally" arriving in my semi tatty “well if it is dark no one will notice the iron burn mark on the trouser leg” outfit. Especially  if everyone  at the Awards looked like they were ready for the Oscars.

As it happened there was a delightful mixture of evening gowns and jeans so we were both okay. Bryan more than me as it was not at all dark and you could see the burn mark. Fortunately by the time we arrived and I was introduced to a few new faces and said hello to a few old faces I was enjoying the evening. My cornered animal fury at having to be removed from my nest so soon after having been returned to it  was a thing of the past.  In the meantime Bryan got steadily sicker.  I was only a little sympathetic.

We did not stay long at the awards  on account of Bryan being sick and because we had to get up at some silly time (again) in the morning to meet  dear friend Nicola off the bus from Abu Dhabi. By the time we got to the pick-up point at 2 in the morning Bryan was a shivering wreck. This of course did not stop him from talking with Nicola and I till after 4am them getting up before 10 to get to another rehearsal on Friday. He collapsed in a silly heap after that. Nicola and I went out without him for a lovely Arabic meal. He was up again on Sat for more dead on my feet rehearsing and a repeat collapsing  and to cut a long story short ( ha ha). He was ill for much longer than he should have been. Oh I have to tell you the long version. So then, we get a message from Bryan’s brother Rob to say that he is coming to Dubai in the morning that Nicola is leaving.   Convenient you would thing but no. Nicola was leaving from Abu Dhabi and Rob was arriving in Dubai. So we go to AD to drop off Nicola turn around to pick up Rob.   Poor, Poorly  Bryan, my sick pup.

I am happy to report that he did eventually recover in time to perform in the Backstage Production of 39 Steps.

Big breath..... here goes, I did not really enjoy it. But please note. EVERYONE else in the audience did. They laughed long and loud and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Sadly my sense of humour is very small and very limited and terribly particular.

For those of you living in Dubai there are a few drama groups around  with  enthusiastic and talented  peeps about and they could do with your support both as audiences and as members of the groups on and off the stage.

Radio Active?

So last week ( or was it the week before it all starts merging....) driving home from work we found ourselves behind this vehicle...

The chaps in the cab of the vehicle did not seem to be aware of the fact that they were carrying potentially hazardous waste. They were not driving particularly carefully and were wearing terribly casual clothes for people with their backs up again radioactive material.


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Language Barriers in Dubai

Living in a thoroughly multi-cultural society has its joys and challenges.

On first landing on the fair shores of Dubai I was totally thrown by all the accents. I, frankly, had a totally melt down over the many versions of English that I absolutely could not understand. Bearing in mind that I already come from a mixing pot of accents I thought I would be pretty well up there on understanding English spoken by pretty much anyone. Ha! Was I in for a fright.

I cannot express my joy on finding (a week or so after we arrived in Dubai) a coffee shop where the serving staff were mainly Kenyan. At last people I could order a cup of coffee  from without wanting to cry about it.

It took a few months before my ears and brain finally got it and I could manoeuvre my way around the city by listening.

Then I got a job working for a lovely Scotsman. DO NOT GO THERE. I still have days when I have absolutely no bloody idea what he has said to me.

Click here for a bit of light entertainment; Scott's in an elevator

Click here for some  more light entertainment 24 accents.... bit rude but you'll get the point

I am meandering. Back to the present. Today a lovely lady came to my office. In the course of our business ( sounds more impressive than it was)  I had to give her a phone number.......So it went something like this:
Me "number number number 555"
She replies back "number number number 345."
"No," says I "it is triple 5."
"Yes," she says "3,4,5."
"  No, not 3,4,5," says me "it is 555."
" Yes!" she says "3,4,5!!!?"
Both of us  are terribly confused.
I say let me see what you have written. She had it absolutely right . Clearly tree fuff five is triple five.

Monday, 28 May 2012

On the 23rd of May our Junior reached the threshold of adulthood!

I have been quiet. I will do a few catch ups. BUT FIRST:-

Cameron , our "Last Born", turned  (no corner or anything but there you go) twenty one. WAY HEY. The magical unofficial age of Majority. Happy day for him, he can now burn up the nightclubs and bars in Dubai when he visits....... 

To be honest I am not entirely sure about this whole thing of having adult children. It makes one so old. I long ago reached the "Age My Parents Once Were" I am now well and truly in "The Age that My In-Laws Once Were" it is so bloody reflective and  relentlessly ongoing.However, this happy anniversary  should not be about me ageing. So, in a moment of selflessness, here are some pictures of our man growing up.....

I distinctly remember an event when he was around two where I watched Bryan going head to head  with an unrelenting and stubborn as hell Cameron. Not in the way of a tantrum you understand which was a little unnerving to say the least. And I thought to myself "cunning will be required in the raising of this child." And so it was.  We had to plan and think ahead and cut him off at the pass (so to speak) all the time. One did not so much raise Cameron as manoeuvre him. If I say so myself we became skilled in this. Which is just as well because if we weren't, I think, Cameron would have been a revolting precocious child. As it was he was just precocious. Still is. But what a lovely boy he has been and what a lovely man he has become.

It has been a privilage to see him grow up to be :
well rounded
socially ept
community spirited
champion of the righeous
broad minded independent thinker
good sport and all round good guy.

We think he is pretty special.

Actually I think both my young men are just the bestest. And their Dad too. Must be genetic.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

On a sad note

My lovely Gran died.

Gran on her wedding day

She did not "pass on" or "pass away" or any of the other "I can't say the word" euphemisms that abound.  She died.

She lived a full life and had the added privilege of having lived in her own home, to the end, always surrounded by her family. How cool is that? Not many people nowadays can say that.

I am so very grateful to my Mum's Brother and all my Cousins for making that  kind of a life possible for my Gran. It has always been such a wonderful, warm, fuzzy "thing" to me knowing that she had that.

I am especially thankful for the care that they took of her in the last month of her life. Big HUGS all round.

I am heartsore for Mum.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

I love Istanbul. It does seem though that so does everyone else!

Well darlings were do I start? You might be wondering (or not) how is it that a self confessed home body travelled, voluntarily, to a foreign place. The long answer could get complicated and deeply boring to anyone other than me. I can, however, give you a semi short (because I am incapable of doing "short" anything from explanations to hemlines)  to middle length explanation. My friend Sharon send me an SMS a couple of months ago that said something like "We are thinking of a trip to Istanbul. Can we stop over with you for a day or so on our way there?" I got all excited at the prospect of seeing my Special Friends and was about to say "Yes , yes , yes come immediately" when it occurred to me that actually I rather fancied a trip to Istanbul myself. Now I love the IDEA of travelling to all sorts of places but the idea and the doing are two  very different things. One is thinking  safely and the other is a bundle of neurosis waiting to explode. The notion that I could see Sharon and Shaun and see a beautiful place became, after a fair bit of agonising indecision,  all too much for me to not act on. I regretted the decision almost immediately and many times over, of course. I reminded myself that I was going to treat this like a bit of Kismet (well figuratively speaking - this is me we are talking about after all) and I  reminded myself that I should go with the cosmic flow.
I looked for places to stay on-line and went all neurotic again. Everything was toooooooo fraught with potential failure. What if the hotel was a rat infested flea pit. What if Istanbul was horrible and the people revolting? What if the aeroplane crashed before, during, or after take off? And then there is the whole landing the beast. What if the food was yuck and the weather cold? What if everyone wore red hats with green polka dots and I don't have ANYTHING in green and red polka dots never mind something so specific as a hat....... You get the idea. Anyway.... Sharon, "seasoned trip arranger extraordinaire", without knowing she was doing it, soothed my ruffled feathers and plans steamed ahead. Tickets were booked. The moment came when Sharon committed her (or Shaun's) credit card to our  all arriving at the hotel.   I could not back out now. Through all of this Bryan  calmly looked forward to the trip and did not once react to my panics and fury at the "what have I done moments"  that I inflicted on myself  - and him.

I was a nightmare at the airport. For example: Bryan went to the loo when the airport staff arrived at the check out counter. I had a quiet breakdown and knew that I would hate him forever for going to the loo RIGHT THEN. As it happened, believe it or not,  we got on the flight (surprise! surprise!).And so went the traveling part of the holiday. Me being predictably revolting and positive that we would miss flights or somehow get on the wrong plane. SIGH. Bryan is a saint. Why can't I be beamed up by Scotty when I want to go somewhere? Why is it taking so long to get this bit of sci-fi off the screen and into my reality? If scientists can clone a sheep why can't they unravel me and put me together across space and time? Is it too much to ask? It is not like I have to be created. Just taken apart and put back together. I am not asking to be sent to Mars. I will stay on Earth and won't require more than 3 or 4 hours time difference ever.

The neurotic brain fizz was worth it. Just look how pretty she is.
Pick a dome!

Wisteria on tres old wall.....

old, old , old hope I look this great when I am that old......

From the moment we left the airport to the moment we arrived back at the airport the holiday was simply an overload of beauty and delight at every turn. I could go on and on and on which ,as you all know, is not difficult. There are so many descriptions out there in cyberspace, by better qualified people than I, that extol the wonder that is Istanbul poetically so  I won't waste tooooooooo much typing space trying. Having said that.... the sense that you are in the middle of the greatest clashing of cultures is tangible in the best way. The history of the city is celebrated without judgement. Or so it seemed to me. The mix of East and West heartwarming. I am sure there are undercurrents. I am not that naive. The pride that Istanbulls have in their city is a pleasure to see. The people are so very, very accommodating and genuinely seem thrilled to share their home with the rest of the world. We felt so welcome. A shout out is required for the hotel we stayed at Best Point Hotel. What fabulous service. Nothing was too much trouble, ever.
view from the rooftop terrace of the hotel

what other tourists look like

Sharon, ( back view) Penny and Bryan being tourists in Istanbul.

Brilliant tour arranger Sharon with talented 'herder "
and holiday companion Shaun.
We did the full on tourist thing. Well there is soooooo much that you sort of have to do  to get all that bloody big history in. Sharon was by far and away the greatest travel planner ever. She should charge for her services. She also has the most amazing ability to make friends with everyone instantly. She was "best-est friends" with the shop keepers, the hotel bell hop, and  the cute lad that ran the Shisha joint that Shaun dragged us to (as you can imagine no kicking and screaming was required)  over several nights.  Shaun and Bryan filled their lungs with apple flavoured tobacco. Sharon was adored by her fan and I  drank Raki.
Wine or Raki the agony of indecision??????? Picture taken for Julie so that she can see that there are places in the world that know what a decent wine glass size is. FINALLY
The food, like the people, was just special. Everything was fresh and simple and ooooooo so yummylishous. It was a struggle to not just park off and eat all day long.  From the fresh, simply cooked fish to the Turkish Meze dishes. The food was delightfully familiar to me. So similar to Greek meals. As was the apparent pleasure in sitting down to a meal.
Other tourists taking a short break.
Serving Turkish tea and Turkish Coffee

Celebrating a football match win with dinner, music and dancing.

Preparing pastry for someones dinner.

I have to go back.

This is a problem for me as I am a "not much travelled person". So really if I am going to do a spot of travel I  should spread myself about a bit more. Istanbul needs more than one visit.  It just does. That is not just me the " I don't do travel" person talking. I have done a spot of blog spying and it seems that even the most seasoned of travellers ( including our travelling companions Sharon and Shaun) fall madly in love with the city and are drawn back to its welcoming atmospheric cobbled streets and people.


Special thanks to Bryan , Sharon and Shaun for sharing this wonderful experience.

PS Bryan took most of the pictures.