Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Dinner Out - The Observatory - Jan 2013

Harare Reps Theatre Homies were visiting in the form of the Bonny's. J & J said "We want to take you out for dinner."  Usually we go to the Creek (they had already done that), or the Dancing Fountains (they had already done that), or we pop down to the Marina or the JBR walk, but it was  too cold and much too windy (I know, weird, cold in Dubai - or maybe I have just been here too long.) to be strolling out doors.  I was at a loss  as to what to suggest as an interesting dinner venue for visitors so I did a quick google on "restaurants with views" and The Observatory came up. Here is The Official Blurb.
I have to go off on a small rant. What is it about this bloody town and hotel chains? Why can't we (we being the public) have one hotel in a chain per city? Why do we have to have ten? The taxi drivers might get confused and you might get lost going in one direction when you should be going in another. Just saying. My all-time favorite for this  is The Address. Which all on its own  could get farcical. Customer to taxi driver "I want to go to the Address."
" Which Address?"
“No, the name of the place is The Address."
“Yes but which Address" You could go on for hours. The Address has five hotels all called The Address some of them in the same bloody neighborhood. IT SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED.

The observatory is a lovely venue high up in the Marriott Harbour Hotel with stunning views of the Marina, the amazing Palm Jumeirah, Sheikh Zayed Road and the rest of the neighborhoods within a squillion mile radius. The restaurant and bar are inviting and warm. Decorated in hues of brown and gold with squiggles of reflective materials all over the place -the floor tiles -the crackled effect mirrors- the lights reflected on the windows - all slightly off kilter and yet somehow elegant. For the first time ever ,and surprisingly, I thought "Yes fur walls would be a good look......." I got a bit confused in the ladies rest room by the quirky mirrors reflecting mirrors and smoked glass cubicle doors! Well I would. There was just the right amount of bling to be arresting but not over the top. But again, maybe I have just been in Dubai a bit too long -see my comment re the cold. The scene was set for oozing comfort.

Now, it was a little bit pricier than I expected it to be and had I known I would not have recommended it to our guests as they had promised to pay for us. But, by the time I got that figured out, it was too late... Note to self - do more research before you invite yourself out to dinner on someone else's tab.

We had a lovely meal. It is a steak place but we opted for fishy things and I think everyone enjoyed what they ordered. I loved my meal. I also only found out afterwards that it has a special way of prepareing steaks in a gourment style vacum packed boil in a bag........ the mind boggles. Will try it next time.

Our dishes were very prettily presented by attentive but not "all over you like rash" serving staff. The meal portions were exactly right. I am not going to go on about what we ate and critique each dish. I will let better qualified people do that for me about their dining experience at The Observatory.

The views were wonderful and I am not just talking about the cityscape and decor. Most of the guests in the bar were jaw droppingly attractive. There should have been a sign over the entrance that said “Beautiful Young Things Here" The food was great. The company was convivial and engaging (which is always important) and a given considering who our dinner companions were. All of this meant that we were set up, without any effort, to have a really great evening out. The evening gently lingered on, well, that is after Bryan arrived an hour late. "Sorry, Sorry my rehearsal ran over time bla, bla, bla drama queen bla, bla, bla". At least the Bonneys were familiar with That Sort Of Thing.

We will definitely put the Observatory on our visitor’s suggestion list with a gentle note that it is not cheap and cheerful but the food and service and views are well worth it.

Once we got home we had a night cap while Bryan strong armed Joan into looking up her ancestor’s on Ancecstory.com or as Bryan puts it "Facebook for Dead People". I eventually said "Enough of this lovely evening! Tomorrow is a Salt Mine Day! I am hitting the sack and bullied Bryan into bed before he thoroughly bored poor Joan about her long dead relations.

Thank you The Bonneys for a delightful and special night out.


Friday, 25 January 2013

December 2012. Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah and Cape Town

We had a full apartment from the first week of December till the 2nd week of January. It has been a treat (but with all the love in the world  going out to our lovely guests) it is rather nice to have the place to our selves for a few weeks.

The Mums arrived!

 We had the World Parachuting Championships 2012  in our airspace. From our apartment we could see lots of to-ing and fro-ings of aeroplanes and helicopters with people jumping out of them. Quite littering up the sky if you must know.....

 The national said this World Sky Diving Champs.

What I loved was this:
ooooo what that over the Burg Al Arab?
These fellows here gave us the display.....


The Family gathering......
Testing the Tourist Equipment


The boozy old people.........

Dinner with the Greenwoods.


Cape Town  - Cameron's Graduation

Bryan jetted off to Cape Town to be with Cameron for his Graduation.

Proud Father and Son
The Graduate - looking nervous?

My Boy's - with a view

My sister's husband Paul was jetting out of Cape Town as Bryan was jetting in. A quick cup of coffee at Mugg and Bean ( of course).
My Men with my sisters man.

Back in the Desert

Cecily and I went to the Movies - we watched Quartet. We loved it.

In Abu Dhabi with Cecily and Cameron.

And Then Christmas Day!!!!!

I woke up appropriately early on Christmas Day. I waited. I waited some more. I made a tray of tea and stormed the beds.

WAKE UP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At last  tea in hand and unwraping gifts.


After Lunch

Mom in Abu Dhabi

Fujairah and New Year

And that was December!


Reading -The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver

Are you fans of  Barbara Kingsolver? Yes of course you are. Everyone who has read her books is a fan.

Not read her?
I was first introduced to Barbara Kinsolver with The Poisonwood Bible "An overzealous Baptist minister named Nathan Price drags his wife and four daughters deep into the heart of the Congo on a mission to save the unenlightened souls of Africa. The five women narrate the novel." The story spans the 1960's through to the 90's in the Congo. It is a deeply disturbing and wonderfully reflected novel. I felt compelled to read more about the Congo and followed up The Poisonwood Bible with Joseph Conrad's even more disturbing Heart Of Darkness and as if that was not enough misery I then read King Leopold's ghost. I think I read Mills and Boons for 3 months solid to recover from the harrowing experience of reading those three brilliant and terrifying books. But I am getting waylaid as usual.

Back to Barbara Kingsolver. The first couple of pages of The Poisonwood Bible are amongst my favourites in the introduction to a book category. A bit like the first line of Pride and Prejudice. You are hooked from the beginning.

 Well for the organic earth mother (or father) types try reading Animal Vegetable Miracle. A wonderful, inspiring, practical and just plain interesting look at living for a year on what the Kingsolver family produced seasonally. I particularly loved the story about her younger daughter and her chickens. Valuable lessons for life. The book has a web site. Log on and see the recipes, read a couple of chapters and get hooked on the principle.
I am currently reading The Lacuna after Cameron brought it back from Cape Town with "You have not read it?" incredulity in his voice. So I am reading it and loving it and don't want to put it down. This is what The Independent had to say about the book in November 2009. The reading Group Guide describes it as a " ..powerfully imagined, provocative novel," that  "takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is the poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as well as an unforgettable portrait of the artist --- and of art itself."
Barbara Kinsolver has just published her latest offering  Flight Behaviour. which of course I will get to...... in about a year.

Dubai Rugby 7's November 2012

I have already about four drafts of this post. So before the Rugby 7's update turns into the fifth post sitting in my drafts folder - here is our Rugby 7's  2012 experience.

For the official site with the proper and correct information  on the event click :- Dubai Rugby7s.

Getting the registration tent ready.
As we have volunteered for the past four years, Bryan and I once again volunteered to help in the registration tent for the invitation tournament. WE LOVE IT.

There is a delightful team of people who arrange and run this very special tournament. It is pretty cool to get the opportunity to volunteer and help out.  The organisers are great so it makes being there for hours and hours each day a pleasure, if somewhat exhausting. The players are all a treat - from the  passionate competitive youngsters in the school teams to the veteran players who end the tournament mostly hobbling about with silly happy grins on their faces despite their injuries.

This year it RAINED.

I was snug and warm in the registration tent. Bryan was stationed on the pitches so he had no relief from the rain. Along with hundreds of spectators he had to use a bin-liner as a raincoat.

This year it RAINED and RAINED

Here is a proper blogger's account of the Rainy 7's as a spectator: Dubai's Multicultural Rugby 7's - in a Monsoon!

What The National had to say about the rain at the Rugby 7's.

Family Connections
Bryan's nephew Brett was playing in the schoolboy's tournament and his family came down to support  his games. In previous years we have seen Brett and his sister  Ronnie working as pitch-side ball boys/girls . Our own two boys have also been roped into the registration tent as volunteers for the last few years. Although this was the first time our two were not with us, the 7's has become a bit of a family thing one way and another.
Drowned Rats - Bryan (sporting Movember) and his cousin Stan.


I could not watch Ruby for one whole day, much less three, without going stark raving mad, but I would hate to miss out on the wonderful atmosphere that comes with this event. By volunteering I get to be a part of it all without having to actually watch too much sport. Maybe I should not admit that? I do love those games that I get to watch. It might be because I feel somewhat involved. Who cares why. Just do it. Right?

By the end of the tournament my bed looks like the most inviting place in the whole world. Bryan and I only do this for three days and by the end of it I can barely put one foot in front of the other. In my defence I do have particularly delicate feet. The professional team that actually arranges the whole Invitational Tournament are at it for much longer.  And they never lose their cool.  It is wonderful what this competition does for the sport. They have my total admiration for all the time and dedication that it takes to make the Dubai Rugby 7's one of the premier events in Dubai .

Monday, 7 January 2013

The utter banality of my humdrum life.

So you guessed it it. I am about to have a small rant about and to myself.

I remember a time, not so long ago, when I looked in horror at  the many people I knew and know who's lives consisted of  a hamster wheel of : work  to home to work to weekend ( and nothing much happening there) in a loop - for months if not years on end.

I could not conceive of that kind of a life. No matter now busy a person was  at the end of the day there had to be time for more somehow. And yet. Here I am. I am eating humble pie.

Somewhere along the way I went from giddy social life and loving it to resenting anything that removes me from the comfort of the sofa. AND THIS HAS TO STOP.

So new years resolutions agreed and signed on New Years Eve at dinner with Bryan Cameron and Mum ( all under great duress and comments about baring their souls and resolutions being private BLA BLA BLA:- 

Abu Dhabi Art Fair - Mid November 2012

sIn an effort to ensure that I do not become a part of the furniture in our apartment I dragged Bryan down to  Abu Dhabi for the Art Fair. To be honest this no longer involves  much dragging of Bryan. I may have mentioned this before but the man has opinions these days about Art. In a previous live , one I understood better, Bryan has no opinions whatsoever about beautiful things. Pretty pictures was my thing. Having an opinion on everything else on the planet was his. Now he has opinions on this too. Not in a bad way you understand but to be honest I am a little disconcerted and am not at all sure what to think  about this shift in our hum drum life. But as usual I am being side tracked. Back to the business of the Art Fair.

Whilst I was toying with the idea of attending the fair I got an email from my chum Frances asking if I would be popping over to Abu Dhabi for the event. Earlier in the year when she was to- ing or was it fro-ing from a trip to somewhere she was in Dubai and we went on a mini adventure on the Art bus during the Dubai Art Week  and had a lovely time thank you. Here is my blurb about that:  Art Fix In March . Frances was not about so I "dragged" ( see above) Bryan off to Abu Dhabi for a few hours of Beautiful Art. We were treated to  more than 400 artists from 50 of the world's leading modern, contemporary art and design galleries.

The new venue for the Fair this year was Saadiyat island. We are regular visitors as this is were TDIC hold their arty farty exhibitions and where our favourite Abu Dhabi eatery Fanr Restaurant is located.

The airy dining area indoors. Out doors is stunning at this time of the year...

Here is a map Saadiyat Manarat for those of you who want to visit.

What I call the tortoise building. You have to see it from below.
One of the exhibition Halls at Saadiyat Al Manarat.

I am posting this very late in the day ( well in January 2013) but  I can tell you that three of the exhibitions were still running as of mid December as we took Bryans' mum for a bite to eat and a look at the Art. So who knows you might get lucky and enjoy some of the lovely art that we saw.  to fin out what is going on a the saadiyatculturaldistrict click here. But back to November........

We looked and looked and sighed and loved all the visuals treats that made up the exhibition. I will have to edit the blog when I get the pictures off our camera. Yes I know I should have done it by now.

By the end of the day I was a shattered wreck. A very content shattered wreck but none the less my senses were shutting down  with only vital function remained operational. Breathing for example.

I will be back there again next year.