Hellloooooo, blogosphere! Remember me?
I know, I know. I’ve been a neglectful blog-mother. I’m sorry. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been MIGHTY busy. New county, new home, new job, new life… Same old me. And Ben is still here
But yes: HAPPY NEW YEAR! I’ve had some tough “moments” this year, and to be perfectly honest, I’m getting a bit sick of hearing my own whinging. Looking back on last New Year’s 1st Jan post, a lot still applies:
“So,  is gone. Like so many days and years, it is in the past, now merely a memory. Words on a page, photos in the album. Some days, I mourn the days that we’ve lost, but really, we haven’t really lost them. We’ve lived them, and we have many more days ahead to continue living.
So rather than mourn what has passed, perhaps it’s time to look optimistically to the future. I spend an awful lot of my time moping and burying my head (please see my official job description in the blog header), but I have, over the last couple of years, been trying to reassess my life and get some perspective. I’m sure many of you know how difficult it is to break habitual destructive behaviours, but where there’s a will, there’s a way!
So let’s see the New Year as a chance for a fresh start.”
My New Year’s Resolutions from last year… didn’t really work out. Let’s review:
1. I have not lost weight. I’ve gone from last 1st Jan’s 12st1.5lb to a mighty 13st. Please do not adjust your sets.
2. The exercise… Well, no. I jogged for like… two weeks, then realised it doesn’t suit me. AT ALL. However, moving to the countryside has lead to more countryside walks, and in warmer weather will encourage cycling and swimming. Watch this space.
3. Eat healthy? Sort of. Less so these past few weeks due to the seasonal blow out, but over all we have rediscovered vegetables, which can be no bad thing.
4. Budget. Well, I wouldn’t be still standing if I hadn’t managed to squeeze my finances. Go me.
5. Redecorate the flat. I don’t live there any more! Hurrah!
6. Study hard. I could have studied harder, but still managed to come out of my MSc with a 2:i (3% off a first. I have mixed feelings. Not discussable here).
7. Forgive myself? Unfortunately, still an unmastered skill. I’ll keep working on it.
And this New Year? Well, one of my seniors at work today suggested making wishes, or hopes. for the year ahead, rather than resolutions. I thought it was a lovely idea, so with that in mind:
1. I hope to continue furthering my education, with possibly some NVQs or a diploma in counselling or mental health care
2. I hope to do some volunteering – I miss my work with SANE
3. I wish people would have their voices heard, and that people would listen more compassionately
4. I wish an assistant psychology post would open up in Waveney, and take me on board for the role…
5. I wish I could give a doggy a home
6. I wish all my friends and family luck, health and happiness. Cheesey, I know, but now more than I ever, I realise how much you all mean to me.
So there we go. All a bit vague and swirly, yes, but I hope that I can make this year a good one.
AH, OH, BEFORE I FORGET. The books of 2011! You remember the Book List, right? Well, here is the 2011 Book Round-up:
I’ve only read a measly 18 books (12 non-fiction, 6 fiction) this year. I know, I know. But remember how I was studying for finals, doing a dissertation, and then moving house? Poor excuses, maybe. Poo to you, sir.
Well, I got a lump of Amazon vouchers as part of a Christmas present, so I’ve loaded up my Kindle and am raring to read. I’ll see you in a year to prove that 2011 was just a rare howler, reading wise. Here’s the list (favourites are show with an asterisk):
- 01.2011 – *V S Ramachandran – Phantoms in the Brain (nf)
- 02.2011 – Neris Thomas & India Knight – Neris and India’s Idiot-Proof Diet (nf)
- 03.2011 – Carl Rogers – On Encounter Groups (nf)
- 02.2011 – *Terry Pratchett – Unseen Academicals (f)
- 03.2011 – Matt Ridley – The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature (nf)
- 03.2011 – Adam Phillips – Darwin’s Worms (nf)
- 03.2011 – *Ben Goldacre – Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks (nf)
- 04.2011 – Prof. Robin Dunbar – The Trouble with Science (nf)
- 04.2011 – Jeff Potter – Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food (nf)
- 05.2011 – Susan Greenfield – Id (nf)
- 11.05.2011 – Rudyard Kipling – The Man Who Would Be King (f)
- 29.07.2011 – Jack London - White Fang (f)
- 02.08.2011 – Richard Mabey - Food for Free: A Fantastic Feast of Plants and Folklore (nf)
- 07.08.2011 – Steven Johnson – Everything Bad is Good for You (nf)
- 12.08.2011 – Patrick Bateson & Paul Martin – Design for a Life (nf)
- 16.11.2011 – Terry Pratchett – Snuff (f)
- 20.11.2011 – Terry Pratchett – Wintersmith (f)
- 24.12.2011 – *Robin Hobb – Assassin’s Apprentice (f)
How about you? Read any good books lately?
January 1, 2012 | Categories: books, charity, exercise, family, holiday, jobs, Mental Floss, sociable, statistics, Suffolk | Tags: Christmas, complaining, debate, dissatisfaction, excitement, exercise, family, fox, gluttony, humans, I love, me me me, optimism, philosophy, rant, shiny, sociable | 2 Comments »
On Thursday, Bubble stopped eating.
She had been struggling with myco complications for a good few weeks now, and the antibiotics seemed to be having only a limited positive effect.
Rats often have respiratory problems, especially as they get older (my girls are about 2 now). Sometimes they get by on baytril long term, and Bubble put up a good fight, but ultimately, she needed a rest.
I can feel myself welling up now.
Ben phoned me up a few weeks ago, whilst I was up here in Suffolk and he and the rats were still in London, sounding worried – Bubble’s breathing was really bad, he said. Very wheezey, sneezey. She had bad porphyrin build up around her eyes too, a sign that she was seriously stressed out.
The vet gave her jabs, and gave us some baytril to administer at home (via oral syringe – she hated that). Then there was the corvental-D, and the powdered steroids, and I think it was all a bit much, and optimism got the better of us.
Bubble has always been a bit of a sickly rat. She had an abscess in January, and she’s been a bit sniffy since we first got her. But she’s also been very highly spirited, ok quite highly strung, but cheeky and loads of fun. Never a dull moment, even if the chewed wires were a pain (rare, but ultimately inconvenient).
Rats are tricky. They are incredibly affectionate, intelligent, inquisitive, and ultimately very easy to get attached to. But they are also small, and therefore quite short lived. Most rats manage 2-4 years. Short but sweet. I loved having Bubble in my life, which has made the last few days all the more difficult.
With the move to Suffolk and my new job starting, I’ve been up and down to London. Unfortunately, when things turned the bad corner on Thursday, I was up here, not down there. But I didn’t want her to wait, suffering unnecessarily, until I got home. A difficult decision, but we think the right one, Ben took her, alone, to the vet. I’m sorry that I couldn’t say goodbye. It hurts to think about that.
But she can get some rest now. I worry that her sister, Squeak (who moved up to Suffolk with me this morning) will be lonely. She seems mostly ok for now, but rats are sociable creatures, and I think she enjoyed being bullied by Bubble. We’ll have to keep each other company for now.
I’m still here! Promise.
Just a bit hectic here (as always). I still don’t have an oven or washing machine (anyone in Waveney with a spare, working washing machine that they want to donate?) but I now have a fridge and a DOUBLE inflatable mattress.
Lots still to bring up from London, but we’re getting there, slowly. Ben has, just today, sold his big red Capri for breaking, and was only offered £500 for it. I think he is very sad, but he’s not letting on much, and it’s hard to tell when I’m 3 hours away. I feel bad for him, because I know he loved that car and, given the time, space and money, he would have reconditioned it and made it beautiful.
However, we don’t have the time, space or money for it. In some ways, this is a good thing: our time, space and money is being developed towards our future, home and (eventually) family. It’s an exciting time, but also scary, lots of change and lots of sacrifice.
My major sacrifice at the moment is probably my sanity: trying to juggle training for three jobs is starting to do my head in, with one employer giving me a bunch of night shifts for a few week’s time. But never mind – I expected this. And hopefully, it means first paycheck soon…
Hello to those of you who found this blog post because you were googling naughty things. Shame on you. Today I’ll be talking about dog walking.
This week, I’ve been looking after my mum’s dog, Dusky, whilst my mum and dad are on the Isle of Wight celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary. OK, I’ve sort of been looking after their dog – I brought her up to Suffolk, but because my new house (renting, not bought, for everyone that keeps asking) requires a “pet addendum” to keep pets, I didn’t think I’d risk asking this early in the game if I can have sleepovers with my friends, the animals.
Luckily, Ben’s parents (also in Suffolk) generously allowed Dusky to stay with them. They have a dog already (Jimmy, a grumpy Jack Russell Terrier), and he wasn’t pleased to see another dog enter the premises, but Ben’s parents LOVE her. She was initially a bit nervous (she is a rescue dog, so god only knows what happened to her before my mum took her in), but has settled in beautifully.
She’s had adventures aplenty. As well as walking around Southwold common, meeting other dogs, being frightened of bikes and freaking out at the sea, my brave little girl has been for a walk, OFF THE LEAD, for the first time ever:
I was a bit worried to start with, as she has no recall to speak of, and I’m not her real mummy, so I wasn’t sure if she’d make a run for it and never come back. But I kept the faith, and we’ve bonded quite well over the last few days, so she kept quite close most of the time.
But even more exciting than this, is she had her first ever play date. And what a play date it was.
I think I’ve mentioned my friend Vin and her two enormous Newfoundlands before. Well, they’re about a year old now, and sodding enormous. Thor, the boy, is about 12 stone, whilst his sister Jester is (only! Hah!) 9 stone.
Despite their size advantage, and the fact there was two of them and one of her (and it was THEIR turf, not hers), Dusky surprisingly put them in their place and ran rings around them. Jester was actually AFRAID of this minute lurcher, retreating behind Vin’s legs every time Dusky went to say hello. Thor, on the other hand, fell deeply in love – he followed Dusky everywhere, licking her ears and generally dribbling all over her (Newfoundlands are drooly dogs).
There were only three dogs, but with their size and her speed, it felt like there were at least a dozen dogs. A fun time had by all – we must do it again some time!
Oh, final excitement: Dusky also caught her first rabbit whilst at Vin’s. It had mixamatosis, so it was probably better off dead anyway, poor thing. Luckily, Dusky broke its neck pretty swiftly, but we had to chase her around the garden for a while to get it off her. Vin had the honour of disposing of the corpse. Fun. Times.
August 25, 2011 | Categories: Britain, car, exercise, family, holiday, philosophy, photography, sociable, Suffolk | Tags: animals, dog, excitement, exercise, family, funny, holiday, humans, I love, me me me, mum, optimism, philosophy, shiny, sociable, Suffolk | Leave A Comment »
Well, here I am.
Where, you ask?
Well, I’m not really sure, either. Existentially, I mean.
Geographically, I am on the move, too. The London chapter of my life is coming to a close. I got the keys to my new place last week, and spent the most part of a week sleeping alone on an inflatable mattress. It’s made it really sink in that everything is changing.
I have been finding this whole “finish full time education, move house, start work” thing more stressful and emotionally challenging than I ever could have predicted. Maybe it’s because it’s the unknown. Maybe because it’s all at once. Maybe because I’ve never been good at growth, or change, or being out of my comfort zone. Maybe because, whilst I’ve been offered bank/part time roles at four different organisations, not one of those have started formal training, or told me when I’ll start. But I know part of it is that I’ve never been out of full-time education for more than 6 months at a go, I’ve never lived alone (even if this is going to be for 2 months, at most), and I’ve never ever lived this far away from my whole family. Yes, Ben’s family live close, and they are great, and supportive, and better than being completely in the wilderness, but they are still that: potential in-laws. Not my parents, my brothers, my… you get the idea.
I relish the freedom of all this. But I’d relish it all the more if it was a bit more certain.
August 22, 2011 | Categories: Britain, car, debate, family, jobs, London, mental illness, philosophy, sociable, Suffolk, university | Tags: comfort zone, complaining, debate, dissatisfaction, dissertation, education, excitement, family, humans, inflatable mattress, London, me me me, mental illness, optimism, philosophy, rant, sociable, time, UEL, university | 2 Comments »
I have had one busy week. One more to go.
I’m up in Northumberland, getting fresh air and pretending I have not a care in the world. I think it’s working, but I’m not 100% sure yet.
Some things I’ve done:
Been dragged up Humbleton hill nearly every morning. Ben is an avid mountain goat, but charging up a slope before breakfast is not exactly my idea of fun. Nevertheless, the view is marvellous. I am, however, hideously unfit.
Berwick upon Tweed. A bit of a crumbling town if I’m honest, but still good fun. Nice little curio shops, ancient fortifications, and one big gorgeous bridge.
Etal village fete. Etal is a cute little village mainly consisting of a ruined castle, a pub, a tea room and some fields. Their fete was equally adorable, with rare Hebridean sheep (that look like Darth Vader), much homemade jam, Clydesdales and locally made burgers.
Kielder water. Actually a fair old trek from where we’re staying, but worth it to see this marvel of engineering – a huge man made lake (dam!) and the UK’s largest man made forest. We took the Osprey pleasure cruiser to see the lake properly.
Local produce. Ok, getting meat from the town butcher is cool, but getting eggs (still warm) from the lady living next door is AWESOME.
Car acrobatics. Thursday was very rainy. My car’s tyres are pretty worn. I have been hassling Ben to help me get them replaced for some months. I think Thursday made the point. On a wet, and thankfully deserted country road, Ben lost control on a skid, and we did a beautiful 360 into a hedge. Surprisingly, there is only a very small dink in the back of my car, although I thought I was going to throw up after the event. But yes – suitably dramatic, could have been SO much worse, and yay, I wasn’t driving at the time. Needless to say, we are getting those tyres replaced today.
Pot-a-doodle-do. After the car incident, I needed some calm activity to soothe my nerves. So, pottery painting was a suitable rainy day activity. Ben has made me an apology plate, I have done a life-affirming pasta bowl. Pics when we get them.
Edinburgh. Yesterday, we drove across the border to my favourite city. A good 10 hours of wandering ensued, and we even took in a show at the Edinburgh Fringe (EastEnd Cabaret, venue 170, is free, hilarious and well worth a look if you’re at the fringe). Note: parking in Edinburgh has gotten considerably more expensive over the last couple of years, so be warned if you’re driving in.
Anyway, I have tyres to get done, and another week of adventuring to do. Cheerio!
August 6, 2011 | Categories: Britain, car, exercise, family, food, holiday, Mental Floss, philosophy, photography, Scotland, sociable, tea | Tags: car, country, fields, food, fox, hill, holiday, horse, Northumberland, sheep | 1 Comment »
Here’s a little fox wot a made. Kit came from my mum’s Cross Stitcher subscription. Enjoy!
OK, time for some cautious optimism. We are getting closer and closer to leaving London.
“What?!” I hear you cry. Oh, you didn’t know? Well, I haven’t really made a formal announcement (because it’s been so touch and go) but basically, we’re moving to Suffolk. Various reasons, but a big one being I REALLY want a garden. Some space. Outdoors.
Southwold beach, about 15mins drive from our future house
The details are sketchy (because clearly Ben has a job in London, so won’t be upping sticks entirely. Yet) but we have just received an email from the letting agent in Suffolk saying we can have the house we want. We’ve arranged a day to collect the keys in the middle of August – not as soon as I’d've hoped, but soon enough (“that’s not soon enough!”)
But moving brings with it heartache and change. I’m really bad at change. I think that’s what’s held me back in the past – fear of change. It’s kept me in stagnant relationships, it stopped me wanting to go to grammar school (I know, I know), but slowly, gently, I’m learning to let change into my life. This is a big one (all at once) as I will be moving away from everything I know – volunteering, choir, friends, my mum (ARGH that’s the hardest one). However, I like to think that this year is a bit of a break through for me become a bit more independent – I’ve got my own car, I’ll (hopefully) be getting a job soon, and my own place (it’s in my name, people! Booyah). Scary shit, right? Right. But I repeat: garden.
Also, it’s not all 100% scary – my choir master from the English Arts Chorale lives in Suffolk too (and commutes to Surrey every week for choir – mad I know) – he runs two other choirs there, so at least I have somewhere to sing. Added to that, Ben’s parents and sister live about 15-20mins drive from where we’re going to live, which makes it feel a bit safer.
Yesterday came the first “cut off” – I said goodbye to SANE and to the EAC. I’ve been a member of each organisation for 15months and 3years respectively, but it felt a lot longer (in a good way). But Suffolk is a long way away, so I had to say goodbye. It was hard, but the cake I baked made it a bit easier. I will definitely keep in touch with the folks at the EAC (I can’t get away from them – they do joint concerts with the choirs in Suffolk!!) and I will continue to spread the news of SANE’s good works. But it’s still difficult to accept that I am no longer directly involved – both groups have meant a lot to me in different ways. Both have helped me to grow.
Anyway, I’ve rambled enough (and I’m getting sad, like when I had to leave the Horniman). More news on the move as-and-when.
Oh, and as always – sorry updates have been sparse lately, but given the above (and the dissertation) I hope you’re happy to forgive and be patient.
July 12, 2011 | Categories: Britain, car, family, holiday, London, Mental Floss, money, music, philosophy, sociable, Suffolk | Tags: debate, dissertation, excitement, family, fox, holiday, humans, I love, London, new, optimism, philosophy, shiny, sociable | 5 Comments »
Today’s bit of street art is courtesy of my mother and her travels to her homeland of Belgium. I’m not 100% certain of which town this was spotted in (I think it was Mechelen, but I wasn’t there, so I can’t be sure), but she saw it and thought of me. Aww.
EDIT: Want to see more work by the same artist? Roa, based in Gent, Belgium
I am a very proud daughter.
My dad got his letter to the Times printed. In full. In bold. With a photo of a rainbow.
OK, I’ll explain that.
On June 4th, there was an article printed in the Times Opinion pages, by one Raymond Tallis, accusing scientists of suffering from “Darwinitis” and “Neuromania” – seeing our obsession with scientific explanations for the human condition as some kind of disease. Tallis argues that humans are simply not explainable by science, evolution, brain scans and so forth.
Well, my dad responded by saying… Oh hell, read it for yourself; he puts it so well (Dr Alex Christie; click to see the bigger picture)
The little bit of paper in the right hand corner is a response to my dad, printed a day later. So glad the Rev Graham Hellier has such a long, considered response. He entirely misses the point, and just as an aside? Referring to nature as a “she” is a mere colloquialism. Dear, oh dear, oh dear.
June 8, 2011 | Categories: brain, Britain, debate, family, mental illness, philosophy, science, sociable, Sussex | Tags: complaining, debate, excitement, family, humans, I love, philosophy, rant, science, sociable, Sussex | 3 Comments »
On Friday, I met up with my mum and aunt, who were having a day out in London. They had already been to see Jan Gossaert’s (Flemish, like they are!) work at the National Gallery by the time I met up with them, and had a cheeky sit in at a lunch time concert at St Martin-In-The-Fields whilst they were waiting for me to arrive, so I knew they were on a culture binge. After a spot of lunch, we decided to round off the day with a visit to the Victoria & Albert museum.
After a drift through the hall of statues (the first gallery you come to after entering via the subway), we decided to avail ourselves of the temporary exhibition on the 1860-1900′s aesthetic movement, The Cult Of Beauty.
As all three of us are avid lovers of all things Art Noveau, it drew us in immediately. With a philosophy best summed up by Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”, the aesthetic movement was a celebration of beauty. Whilst I wasn’t mad on everything in the exhibition, there was an astoundingly large selection to choose from. My favourites included Pavonia (the picture used in the promotional material, as above), Proud Maisie, The Beguiling of Merlin and Louise Jopling. I was also deeply drawn in by the beautiful statue, Mors Janua Vitae (death is the gateway to life) by Harry Bates – the picture on that website does not do it justice; it is stunningly beautiful and more than a bit unnerving.
As well as being crammed full of beautiful paintings, sketches and sculpture, The Cult of Beauty also boasts some architectural drawings (including sketches for Whistler’s famous Peacock Room), Morris wallpapers, pottery, a set of wrought iron gates, some beautiful clothing and astonishing feats of carpentry. Oscar Wilde gets a mention or two, and there is a poster for a play entitled “Quite Too Utterly Utter”, which makes me grin like a loony.
The exhibition is on until the 17th of July, and is well worth the price of the ticket. We spent a good couple of hours in there, and would have taken even more time if we hadn’t started flagging after a long day.
Tickets are priced at £12 Full, £9 Seniors citizens, £7 Full time students, ES40 holders, 12-17 year olds, £31/£19 Family tickets (2 adults and 2 12-17 yrs/1 adult and 2 12-17 yrs)
Find full details on the V&A website.
May 23, 2011 | Categories: art, Britain, clothes, family, jewellery, London, money, museum, philosophy, sociable | Tags: animals, art, crafts, excitement, family, humans, I love, London, me me me, mum, museum, music, optimism, philosophy, shiny, sociable | 2 Comments »
I LOVE St Martin-in-the-Field’s café in the crypt. It’s so wonderfully weird.
Yes, it’s a café in a crypt. Yes, underground. With old tombstones on the floor.
You might think it sounds a little creepy, but it really isn’t. Café in the Crypt is cosy, quirky and charming. They serve refreshments pretty much all day, with meals available at lunch and dinner. Whilst choice of food is fairly limited (one meat/fish dish or one vege dish, or a selection of cold salads etc.) it is always top notch quality, and reasonably priced.
Yesterday, as they were in the area, my mum, aunty and I went there for a lunch of fish and chips, with mushy peas and freshly made tartar sauce. Far too big a portion to finish on one’s own, and only £8 for the privilege. The menu changes daily.
It’s a buffet cart affair, so don’t go there expecting table service.
The Crypt also has a gift shop, art gallery space, brass rubbing and host live music events (notably their jazz night’s). Well worth a visit.
Holy crap, look what just arrived in the post (in one piece!)
I told you my sister-in-law was a master baker (sorry, I can’t resist saying that).
Well, in the final of my blog posts about my mind blowing week in Dubai, I’ll tell you what we did (aside from eat and look at shops).
The answer is: not a great deal. I’ll be honest with you – you can’t go on holiday to the UAE for more than say a week, because there is simply not that much to entertain yourself with. Unless your life revolves around designer shopping (which mine doesn’t), then Dubai may be for a one off trip.
Dubai does not have much of a cultural history. There aren’t any ruins to see, or historical buildings. Even museums and galleries are in single figures (although we did see a great exhibition from the British Museum – see below).
But don’t get me wrong – Dubai is great fun. Just don’t expect to be entertained for weeks on end.
We gave the “desert safari” thing a miss – essentially dune bashing in a 4×4 followed by dinner in a bedouin tent. We did a similar thing in Qatar six years ago, and I can’t imagine it’d be much different in Dubai (just 40 mins away by plane). We also didn’t hunt down any camels – I rode one, and we saw them in racing training, also in Qatar.
But we did the water-park thing. Oh yes.
We went to Atlantis, based on the Palm Jumeirah (yes, that huge, palm-shaped island they built), and pretty much spent the entire day pratting about on inflatable tyres. Round and round the rapids we went…
Atlantis is sodding enormous, with a large range of water slides to choose from (I only actually went on two, but one of them involved going through a transparent tube THROUGH an aquarium, so I think that counts for something). There’s also a variety of restaurants, to keep you fuelled throughout the day (although the service left a LOT to be desired). And if you really want, you can relax on the man-made real-sand beach, and swim in the actual sea -
Nothing quite beats finishing the day with a Virgin Pina Colado (i.e. no alcohol) drunk our of a pineapple, though. OK, rum would have beaten it, but still…
But Atlantis was not the only swimming (ok, splashing about in water) I did during the week. Like all awesome hotels should have, our hotel boasted a roof-top pool. The joy of near 40-celsius daily? You can have a dip, and then dry off in the sun in about a minute. Mmm, toasty…
The final, major outing we did in the week was our Saturday trip to Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is arguably even “newer” than Dubai, in that they are still constructing a major tourist attraction, Saadiyat city. Included in Saadiyat will be the Arabic Guggenheim, the Arabic Louvre, a marina, a nature reserve, masses of hugely expensive villas (my dad’s company are doing the telecoms set up for TDIC, so he had access to show us around a AED10m (about £1.6m) villa) and much, much more.
At the moment, Saadiyat is very much a work in progress – some of the villas are there, but otherwise there is a “Story of Saadiyat” exhibition (which tells you about the work they’re doing), a restaurant, The Splendour of Mesopotamia exhibition (courtesy of British Museum) and… that’s about it. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it was amazing, but maybe I’ll check in on it in a few years (especially as the recession has hit works HARD – I’m telling you people, if you were thinking of investing in Arabic property, NOW IS NOT THE TIME!! There, I think I’ve done a public service…)
Then, it was onwards to Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque -
One of the only (if not the only? I have no idea) mosques in the world that is open for non-Muslims to visit. And what a one to visit! It was bloody huge. Four minarets and countless domes, everything was marble inlay and gaudy chandeliers.
Understandably, you couldn’t waltz in wearing your summer dress – the staff provided abayas for women to throw on (I will reserve my opinions on cultural attitudes towards women) and men have to wear long trousers. You are asked to remove your shoes before entering the mosque itself.
And here, just a handful of pictures from the mosque itself. Wow, right?
Definitely a once in a lifetime experience.
And so ends my stories of the Middle East! Obviously, I can’t relate every single thing we did in these short blog posts, but I hope I have given you a taster of what Dubai (and Abu Dhabi) have to offer. I had a whale of a time, best aspect of course being the time spent with my dad, who pretty much lives out there now – boo
It’s not for the faint-hearted, and definitely save your pennies up before heading out there. But most certainly worth a look in.
April 27, 2011 | Categories: art, clothes, debate, family, holiday, money, museum, photography, sociable | Tags: Abu Dhabi, art, dad, debate, Dubai, excitement, family, humans, I love, Middle East, mum, philosophy, shiny, sociable | 5 Comments »
Today’s post revolves around the food wot I et in Dubai. Yes, it does merit its own post.
Food is in abundance in Dubai. Emaraties have a particularly sweet tooth (my mum argues that this is because they don’t drink alcohol, but personally I think they’re right to accept that sugar is awesome). There are cakes and sweets available pretty much everywhere, but not really chocolate so much (it’s a hot country – I may have mentioned this before).
So that explains the huge sweet shop -
But we ate surprisingly little by way of puddings. Maybe that’s because there was meat to be had, and I am way more susceptible to meat than sweets (and that’s saying something).
One of the restaurants we dropped into was the Butcher’s Shop, down at the Jumeirah Beach Resort. Here, like a butcher’s shop, you could buy cuts of meat to take away. Or you could select a cut of meat to eat there in the restaurant. And it can be bigger than “standard size” if you really want. Standard size was big enough for me, to be honest -
Another restaurant we went to was in the China District in Dubai’s International City. International City is on the outskirts of Dubai, essentially providing cheap accommodation to Dubai’s foreign workers. It’s made up of some generic looking buildings, each slightly architecturally personalised to represent different cultural districts (e.g. the Moroccan District had Moorish doorways).
We went to a restaurant called Little Sheep for a Chinese food experience ENTIRELY new to me – Hot Pot.
Essentially, you get a massive pot of stock, which is set on a hot plate that’s built into your table. The hot plate keeps the pot bubbling gently, whilst you prepare your food. You can order a variety of dipping dishes, including thinly sliced cuts of meat, noodles, mushrooms, vegetables, seaweed knots.. We went for beef, black fungus, knotted seaweed, and a couple of salad leaf dishes (which don’t so much cook as wilt dramatically). It’s a really fun and sociable meal, and since getting back into the UK, I’ve found a shop in Brixton that sells Hot Pot stock, and even a restaurant in London that does Mongolian hotpot…
Oh, but the big finalé of the week… The Fairmont Brunch. Oh yes oh yes oh yes! My mum and dad were so excited to take me to this (they’ve been a few times before). For a small fortune, you gain access to three hours of gluttonny and as much Moet et Chandon as you can pour down your gullet.
The food comprises every conceivable cuisine under the sun, including sushi bars, a huge pudding bar, and even a shawarma kebab rotisserie. I was in heaven. Needless to say I had about a dozen courses, and was rightly stuffed and drunk as a skunk by kicking out time.
Friday brunches are becoming more and more popular in the hotels in Dubai, but Fairmont is reknowed for being the original and best. My parents do spoil me. And I ain’t complainin’.
Tomorrow: Yes, but what is there to do in Dubai..?
As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve just gotten back from a week’s holiday in Dubai with my parents.
It was hot, but more than that, it was obscenely decadent. If you’ve been to Dubai in recent years, you’ll know what I mean. I simply couldn’t believe the scale, the scope and the extent of the wealth scattered everywhere.
I’ve worked out that the only things that you can’t get in Dubai are strippers and Primark. Anything else (yes, even pork) is available. Even well known brands like M&S, Claire’s Accessories and New Look were around. Oh, and they had a Hello Kitty shop.
OK, something a bit more typically Dubai now (let’s face it – if I want Hello Kitty, I have to wait until Tokyo recovers from natural disaster).
The Middle East is a bit infamous for splattering money over everything. They need to have the biggest, the most expensive, the most exclusive, the most diamond encrusted, solid gold eye-sores available. It was quite a spectacle to see for real, and, as I kept saying all week, it was Something Else.
Let me give you some examples -
The Burj Kalifa, the world’s tallest tower -
An indoor ski slope (bearing in mind this is a country that suffers the high 40s (Celsius) in high summer) -
And the world’s most expensive piano (an ugly monster if you ask me. But who cares? It’s 24-carat gold plated.)
I’m sure one day, some very brave person will write an exposé on the Psychology of the Middle East, and explain why rich Emarities feel the need to show off their wealth in such an outrageous fashion.
Oh, I have sooooo much more to share with you (such as actual stories of stuff we did, and a LOT of photos of food) but I think this so far is enough to blow your mind. Oh, and it’s a Bank Holiday, and outside it is sunny. Rowing at Ham on Thames awaits!
More tales of Arabic extravagance await. Stay tuned!
April 25, 2011 | Categories: art, debate, family, jewellery, money, music, photography, sociable | Tags: dad, debate, Dubai, excitement, family, Hello Kitty, holiday, humans, Middle East, money, mum, sociable | Leave A Comment »
I have have just arrived back on British soil. To my Facebook friends, this comes as no surprise. To the rest of you – hah, tricked you! Didn’t I do well?
I have spent the past week with my mum visiting my dad in Dubai. And WOW what a place. But you know what? I’ve been on a plane for eight hours. I’m exhausted. I’ll tell you all about my adventures later.
Phew, it’s nice to be back on home soil!
I love magpies. In fact, I love most corvids – they’re pretty, in a not-so-obvious way. But magpies are best, because, like me, they like shinies.
I took my mum to the Tatty Divine shop at the very end of Brick Lane. She loved it. And why wouldn’t she? Tatty Divine is… Well, divine.
I want this. £57. Arrrrrrgh.
April 22, 2011 | Categories: art, clothes, crafts, family, I Want Never Gets, jewellery, London, money, sociable | Tags: art, crafts, excitement, family, humans, I love, I Want Never Gets, London, me me me, mum, shiny, sociable | 2 Comments »
I took my mum to Whitechapel a couple of weeks ago, and we had a great time wandering around the shops and generally enjoying the sunshine.
On our travels, we came across a lot of street art, including this beautiful, enormous crane -
Yesterday, I saw Fiddler on the Roof for the first time. Twice in one day in fact. And I just so happened to be playing bass in the pit.
Lewes Operatic Society were, as usual, fantastic. They all have such great voices and presence in that company, especially the lead playing Tevye (our narrator, and head of the family).
It’s a bit of a miserable story, but it’s littered with jokes and romping tunes, so no worries there. The famous “If I Were A Rich Man” takes centre stage, but I preferred the more sombre “Sabbath Prayer” and “Sunrise, Sunset”.
Definitely worth a look. Lewes Operatic Society put on great shows.
Tired, heading back home after a lovely day in Sussex with my mum. So here we go with another cop out post – IKEA towers in the sunset.
I love my new shoes. They are super comfy, walk well, and I won’t misplace them. Oh, and they are one of Ben’s charity shop bargain finds. Win!
As his sister pointed out, though, you do have to shout to hear yourself over them…
Following on from yesterday’s review of Sexual Nature at the Natural History Museum, I thought I’d give you a “recommended read”. I actually finished this book about a month ago, but am only just now getting around to reviewing it. Don’t expect any ground-breaking reflection – I’m a bit weary at the moment.
Well, the long and short of it is: Matt Ridley is great. I’ve known this since I read his “Nature Via Nurture” last year, at which point my dad recommended this.
Here, Ridley looks at the question of: why sex? Sex uses a lot of energy, is slow, and requires two individuals. And it leads to a lot of dangerous competition. Well, sex has its various advantages, and Ridley looks at these systematically.
But the more entertaining portion of the book looks at various sexual behaviours: from sexy-son theory, to the thousands of genders in the mushroom family, you’re bound to be in for a few surprises.
My main love of Ridley comes from his rare ability to impart brilliant scientific knowledge, whilst still keeping it all fascinating and entertaining (I would NEVER describe Ridley as “dry”). Phrases like “a gigantic experiment called communism in a laboratory called Russia…” are bound to raise a smirk. And you will be bowled over by the blunt illustration of the interconnectedness of all human-beings (as early on as p. 12). Be amused by the Coolidge effect! Finally understand why gentlemen prefer blondes (or not)!
Definitely worth a look in – I enjoyed it very much, and imagine I will be reading it again in the not-too-distant future.
Sorry for the late posting! It’s been a busy few days.
So, here’s a quick one to amuse you – I bought a Doggy Bank!
And here he is:
You can get your very own Doggy Bank from Hawkin’s Bazaar for a mere £15.