Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Sad news



We've had some sad news here in the UAE, Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed Al Nahyan's body has been found after a microlight crash in Morocco several days ago. My heart goes out to his family, terrible to lose someone so young. There will be three days of mourning here according to the newspaper. What that means I'm not sure of at this time. Some say that the country shuts down for 3 days, some say that it will be business as usual. I guess we will find out tomorrow.

In the mean time, Sue and I are looking at flights to Egypt just in case we get a long weekend. I've had plans for ages to get there, to go and get my photo taken on a camel in front of the pyramids just like my granddad did in the war and like my father dearly wanted to before he died. Alas that was not to be. I've booked twice to go to Egypt and had to cancel, once because my father was deemed too sick to travel. Maybe this will be my third time lucky and I can do some mourning of my own.

I took this photo this afternoon on a trip to the camel track. There weren't many camels out and about but I spotted this group hidden in the dunes.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Sleep, need sleep....

Don't you hate when you can't sleep. When the thoughts tossing around in your head chase way the possibility of dreaming. This hasn't happened much to me lately but tonight thoughts are tumbling and just as I think i've got one lot sorted out another possibility breaks my peace.

I decided to get up and do some surfing to help me settle, to take my mind off things. It hasn't worked so far, just stimulated my brain a bit more. I've been checking out laser surgery for my eyes, to get rid of my fragile glasses and have perfect sight again. Everyone I know who's had this done raves over the results. I tried my contacts again for bowling, funny to be able to see into the distance but not be able to read my texts. Better than having my glasses join the ball down the alley as I follow through on a bowl I suppose.

Surfing the side effects and pros and cons of this hasn't helped me sleep, just got me excited and a little worried. I'm going to have a consultation in Dubai in a couple of weeks then make up my mind. I've also been thinking about my friends who have left recently, wondering how they are settling into their home places. Anne is back in New Zealand and I must email her some goss. I owe others emails too.

Tonight I went to Amal's baby shower and enjoyed a cuddle with Zachariah who is only a few days younger than Noah. It was strange to get a grandmother fix with another's child. He is very cute and gave me more of an idea of how big Noah really is. Skype is good, but not like the real thing, not like holding my lovely grandson in my arms. I ate too much at Amal's. Chocolates, cake and Deidre's famous brownies washed with some tea that reminded me of Turkish chai. Lots of stimulating conversations too, no wonder I can't sleep.

Not sleeping would be OK if my alarm didn't go off at 6 and I didn't have to paste a smile on my not a morning person face and head to work. Works another cause for thoughts chasing around. We've got monitoring agency visits and people are wired. I'm used to these visits from past jobs so I'm not bothered. I need to project my calm onto others who are, to do that I need sleep. Chamomile tea finished, I'm off to have another go. Night night, sweet dreams to all you others out there stacking zzzs.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Double adapters...grrrr

Yes, double adapters. Adapters meaning the thingy you can plug into a socket so one of the many plug types we seem to get here can have a flow of power to make them go. Double meaning that two or sometimes more of these odd plugs can plug in at the same time. Simple, you might say.

Not so with the new batch of said plugs I've just bought. The old ones wore out, stopped working somehow. Not sure how that happened actually. It's not as though I went out driving in them or took them for a swim or to the gym or even to yoga. They just wore out hanging in one socket or another, maybe being moved between. The new batch, some failed to work. The one with my kettle and toaster, I take my life in my hands every morning trying to get it to a) make the kettle boil and b) cook my toast. I've given up on these actions occurring simultaneously.

My hair dryer with it's NZ adaptor then the double adapter is a nightmare. The plug fizzes and pops, the kitchen one does that too so I know the sound well. sometimes it works, sometimes I go out looking a fright. No wait, that's how I usually look, more of a fright than normal then. I'm scared to use these on my computer, I plug it all in then hook up, so far so good. I do unplug them all when I go to bed or to work. I'm not sure that concrete burns but I'm not taking the risk.

So here I sit eating toast that went a little cold while waiting for the tea to be made and wondering what today will bring. I've talked to Noah, he's so very cute, and Tim, also cute in a grown up man and now a dad sort of way, on skype. The wonders of technology being able to see my new grandson and son so clearly. The hot wind is swirling the dust around outside making this more of an inside day than one to go poolside. We shall see.

Bowling fun

I found myself free this weekend after a trip to Dubai fell through, no good having a farewell without the guest of honour. Friends to the rescue, did I want to join their bowling team for the afternoon. Morning spent talking to family then off to Abu Dhabi. The one and only (by the way that was the name of the team I joined and it's a great film) time I had been bowling I had surprised myself. I scored over 100 in my second game, second game ever.

Bowling, 10 pin that is, is not a common sport in New Zealand. Bowling as in lawn bowls is. In fact we have won medals and world championships in this sedate while challenging sport. Today I did appallingly in my first game, too many gutter balls to get a decent score. Then my competitive nature crept in. I got some strikes and the thing that's a strike but with the second ball so I managed a 119 in the second game, much to Phil's surprise (read horror).

You see Phil like, other Englishmen I know, enjoy taking the mickey about my New Zealand accent. Which of course doesn't exist because we don't have an accent. On the other hand the English do, a variety of accents which show where in England they come from, right down to which part of London they hail from. Usually it's my yissses and thnk yous that get me into trouble, a lack of vowels apparently. Today it was something to do with bowling and of course because the English invented the game they must be right, yeah right. So whatever the thing was that Phil said and I couldn't, I got a couple of those. They're good things to have apparently.

Seeing my boss dressed in a pink tutu with purple hair and a pink t shirt was a highlight. That the women in his team were dressed the same including a pink tie and a bow in the hair made my day, cheered me up no end. They of course got the prize for the best dress, it's going into the dinner on Wednesday night fund for us all to enjoy. So it was a good day out. Now I'm sitting at home relaxing with a tipple and ready to watch a movie. An early night's in order I suspect, I have some sleep to catch up on after some hectic weeks.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Snow Patrol



I love Snow Patrol Chasing Cars and while I was listening to that on YouTube, found this gem also from Snow Patrol. I watched the clip with the lyrics then found it tracked to one of my favourite movies. I went and saw The Notebook with Annie at the movies, not a dry eye in the place. Yes, it is a chick flick, a movie for the romantics amongst us. I sometimes get emails from readers of my blog and Natia has been writing to me lately. This one's for you my friend, I suspect you'll enjoy the lyrics and I can recommend the movie if you haven't already seen it.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Farewells

It's Saturday evening, my how time flies. Well actually it's the weekends that fly. We had Mike's farewell on Thursday night after Anne's on Wednesday night. There have been too many farewells as our good friends head off, in these cases, back home. Mike's was a music jam session as you would expect from a musician and his musical friends.

I made the strawberry Daiquiris, a new skill transferred from my old skill of making (and drinking) Margaritas. It was such a pleasure relaxing amongst good friends, enjoying the music and singing along. There were several countries represented. South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, we all seem to get along so well in this place. Maybe it's because we are the adventurous ones, the ones not afraid to take the risk of changing our lifestyles.

Anne's farewell was a treat. I didn't know that Al Ain had a town square, and I've lived here for 14 months. It's tucked down small side streets between two major thoroughfares and is the place where people gather after hours. There are restaurants around the perimeter, we ate at the Maroccan (no spelling mistakes here) while we watching the children playing and the fountain show.

The fountain show really is a treat. The water shoots up in time to the music, or at least it seems that way. There was plenty of music, my favourite was Louis Armstrong What a Wonderful World. Imagine sitting outside with good friends in the balmy spring heat of a UAE evening eating Moroccan food while watching a large fountain with coloured water, did I mention that the water was coloured by the lights, send water up high into the air to music. Another pinch yourself moment.

There will be more farewells as peoples contracts here end and they decide to move to other places. It's really hard saying goodbye to good friends who I have shared this experience with, really hard to think that I may not see some of them again. As Rose says, people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. It's hard sometimes to know who comes in for what reason, time will tell I suppose.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Music

Music has always been a big part of my life, different music, different genre from rock to opera and everything in between. I enjoy having people in my life who love music, people who say yes when I ask them if they know a particular piece of music. My son Nick is one of those people. We share our music, my ipod has his collection and he has many of my records, my old records.

I remember a time when he played a new song for me. Nirvana, The Man Who Sold the World. He was quite young at the time, pre teen. He looked in amazement as I sang the words to this new song, astonishment when I produced the Bowie record with the same song from the beer crate containing my records. Since then we have enjoyed sharing our music. How else would I know about the Decemberists and Darcy Clay, Eight and My Morning Jacket?

One of my pleasures in life is searching YouTube for music. Music that's obscure, old, different. I do this instead of watching TV, I don't have one of those and certainly don't feel the need for one. Tonight I have found the clip of Pavarotti and Steven Gately sing No Matter What and Miss Sarajevo with U2. It's best when you do it with someone else, better over a red or several.

It's amazing what can be found on YouTube, people you know, yourself after the Kate posted our Nepal clip. Vids to music you know but didn't quite understand, music with lyrics that make you cry. The clip I've added is one I really love. It's such a loss that this young man is no longer with us, his music will always remain. This one's for Sarah, a big Pavarotti fan.


Sunday, 14 March 2010

A photo of the night


Sue captured this image on the night. She's headed back to the desert, to the Empty Quarter. It was so lovely to have her here for the weekend, a bonus to have such excellent and sage company. I must return the pleasure some time soon. Thanks for a great weekend my friend.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

You just have to pinch yourself....



Close your eyes and imagine sitting under the stars on a balmy evening in a mud fort with good friends listening to an orchestra play Mendelssohn, Schumann and Mozart. That was my Thursday night. Sometimes, as Sally used to say, you just have to pinch yourself.

The Mozarteum Orchestra from Salzburg came to Al Ain for the 10th Classics Festival. There were other treats such as an opera but the setting was the reason Sue and I chose this concert. Al Jahili Fort is very close to my place, two photos attached and there are more on Flickr. It's a lovely peaceful place and houses the Wilfred Thesiger exhibition.

We ended the night sampling the cocktails at the Rotana, it's been a while since I've had cherry brandy, yum. We sat by the pool, the cool blue water looking inviting. The orchestra were there too including the conductor that Amy took a shine to. The palms were lit up, the place packed. A really fantastic night out, still recovering.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Hello Noah James

Wow, isn't technology amazing. I've just met my new grandson via an internet link. He is so very cute, so very contented sucking his thumb. Ok, so I've turned into one of those brag book grandma's, why not. Having children is such a miracle, one that has never failed to amaze me, and now the next generation of my family is beginning. Fantastic. As my good friend Helen said, this is another life stage for me and my family. Thanks everyone for your messages, they are much appreciated.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Sting

I really haven't been writing as regularly as I had been, thanks to all my lovely friends who are missing my musings and giving me the encouragement to put pen to paper as it were.

There's been a lot happening in the past few weeks. I'm now a grandma and very excited about it, although sad that I won't get to meet Noah James in person until July. I'm sure I'll make up for lost grandma time then. He's very cute, well rounded with lots of black hair. He's a good mix of his mum and dad and uncles, all the good points of course. I hope to be able to publish a photo soon.

Talking to family such a lot and missing out on another special occasion has made me feel a little unsettled, a little homesick. I've been back from New Zealand for a few weeks and I've now got a long semester ahead of me. This is the third time I've worked this semester, the one with no breaks from February until July. I can't say I'm looking forward to it but you get that with the big jobs. I'm sure my Qatar crew are nodding about now.

This weekend I went to Dubai for some much needed R&R and stayed with some friends of a friend. We had a great time, a couple of excellent nights out including going to the Sting concert at the Medan Racecourse. This is an amazing venue, huge and plush and packed with people for the concert. As you can see by the clip, there was a lot of audience participation. It was the best concert I've been to in ages and I couldn't get this song out of my head. The sounds really scratchy but I'm sure it gives you a picture of the atmosphere, a fantastic night out.


Monday, 1 March 2010

It's quiet here

I've been getting feedback about my quiet blog. Truth is it's quiet here. Between working and catching up with friends, sharing holiday stories, I've not really been out and about. I have learnt how to make really good Margaritas, that I do really like GnT's and that the Pims I used to sneak as a teenager is delish when mixed properly. So it's been a social time, a time when the photos have not really been publishable.

Next weekend I hope to get to Dubai to see Sting in concert, if I can get the tickets that is. The following weekend I've got Sue coming over from Liwa, brushing off the sand and coming to a concert at Al Jahili Fort, can't wait. I'm also waiting for my grandchild to arrive, not long now I hope.

We had a stormy weekend, one best spent laying on the couch with a good book. The wind whipped across the dunes picking up the fine sand and distributing it everywhere. I'm always amazed how the sand gets in and coats everything in a fine dusty layer. This is a sure sign that things are heating up here. The winds blow as the desert heats up. One of the teachers was telling me that the wind comes at this time of year so the date flowers get pollinated, no wind means a low crop. Sounds sensible to me.