Archive for November 2011
I took the children to see a theatre production of Little Red Riding Hood at the weekend. They really liked it – DD wanted to be the Woodland Fairy who spoke in rhyme, while DS was fascinated by the wolf’s “scary eyebrows”.
As he’s only two and a half, I spent a little time before the show briefing him on the story and preparing him for the entrance of the wolf. The last thing I want is nightmares for the next 10 weeks, as has happened with several friends who’ve taken their children to theatre shows containing witches and monsters.
“It’s only a man in a costume,” I explained. “Don’t be scared.”
As it happened, the wolf was the least of our problems. Half way through the show, DS leaned over to me and said in a little voice, “Mummy, where’s Little Red Riding Hood?”
“She’s there,” I said, pointing at the actress in the red cloak.
“No,” he said. “That’s not Little Red Riding Hood. She’s big. And she’s not riding.”
Well, what do you say to that?
I love to shop for other people but it seems to me, as I trawl the malls with a credit card begging to be used, that all the people I have to buy presents for are particularly difficult this year. How about you?
Causing anguish this year I have:
Dear Husband: Been together 20 years and, as he’s the sole earner (my income just about buys the loo roll each month), he effectively buys what he wants himself. Ways to surprise him? Nil. What he wants for Christmas? The 2010 Range Rover Sport Supercharged. Can I buy it for him? Not without a Letter of No Objection from him and a loan. On his account.
Dear Son: At two and a half, he’s no longer such a tiny baby that he doesn’t know or care what he gets. He doesn’t know what he does want, but he’ll know (as will we all) if he gets something he doesn’t want.
Dear Daughter: Aged six and a half going on 16, DD is no longer impressed by gimmicky plastic tat (was she ever?), fake BlackBerrys and fake makeup. Kids’ toys are a no-go. What I need is one big “wow” present that’ll knock her socks off and intrigue and entertain her for hours on end. It’ll be intellectually challenging, exciting, fun and grown-up. It’ll have infinite variety in the ways it can hold her attention, and it’ll grow and expand as she does. (yes, an iPad would be ideal but I’m not going there; she can use mine).
My mum: She’s easy in that she loves jewellery but difficult in that her tastes are wildly different from my own. She also plays a lot of golf – but how many golf balls, tees, Big Berthas and computerised score-card tally things can you buy for one person?
Brother and SIL: Oh god. I mean, really? What do you buy your 43-year-old millionaire brother? What?
Best Friend: The most stylish woman I know, BF has far better taste than I do. There’s always a fear that, whatever I choose for her, she would have chosen a slightly more edgy, more unique and more classy version herself, from an oblique, sustainable, one-woman business that also happens to give something back to the world in an angel-pleasing way. “Inadequate” doesn’t come close.
Best Friend’s Husband: He’s a man. What else can I say? *Tricky*.
Any ideas? Leave me a comment!
I don’t have a lot of time tonight so I thought I’d post a pic that tickled my fancy given the extravagant light displays we get here for Diwali and Eid.
It came via my mum, from her cousin in Canada, who I think got it from Facebook. So, apologies if you’ve already seen it. It made me laugh.
Some time ago, Mall of the Emirates installed ticket barriers at the entrances to its car parks. Parking’s free for four hours, after which you have to pay.
On leaving the mall, you shove your ticket into the machine for validation (oh yes you do – you never drive to the exit and then realise you’ve forgotten. Never!). The machine tells you if you need to pay, or validates the ticket if you don’t, and then you shove it into the machine at the car park exit, and it lets you out into the big, wide world.
It’s a great system, and I’m grateful for four hours of free parking. My only issue is that, in the last five months, not one of my MoE parking tickets has worked.
“Faulty ticket. Please press HELP button,” is the message I get every single time I try to validate it.
To be fair, the HELP button is very helpful and usually results in a new ticket being issued with about 10 seconds, but I have to wonder, why me?
To begin with, I thought that, because I keep the ticket next to my BlackBerry, maybe that was disrupting the magnetic strip so I moved the ticket to my wallet.
Then I thought maybe the magnets that snap my DKNY handbag shut were causing the problem – but it happens with the Prada, the Tod’s and the Coach too (no magnets).
So I started keeping the ticket tucked safely against my bum in the back pocket of my jeans, and guess what? I still get the problem. Is there such a thing as an electro-magnetic bum?
A harsh reality of life in Dubai is that you need a lot of sandals, sunglasses and, especially, bikinis.
Stop laughing at the back; I’m serious.
They stop going from something you pick up for an annual summer holiday to staples of your year-round wardrobe and, when you wear swimwear as much as we Dubai residents do, trust me, you start having to differentiate between the different uses for your bikini. It’s a bit like the Eskimos having 45 words for “snow”, I guess.
Every woman here needs a different bikini for every beach and pool eventuality. Depending on your age and stage of life, these could involve any of the following, or more: Cocktails at a smart beach bar; a high-energy visit to a water park; canoeing round the mangrove swamps; swimming laps in the community pool; posing at the beach club; making sandcastles on the beach with the kids; standing around at a barbecue; or even plain old sunbathing by your own pool.
You need “fat-day” bikinis and “look-at-me” bikinis. You need “mummy” bikinis and “haven’t done my bikini line” bikinis. You need confidence-boosting bikinis and you need chaste bikinis. You need bikinis to wear with heels and you need bikinis to wear with flip-flops. And then you need bikinis to wear with those who’ve already seen your other bikinis.
Coats, boots, hats and gloves, however, are things we Dubai ladies never need. But, at this time of year, British women’s magazines are full of them. They’re just not relevant to my life as I sit by my swimming pool, sipping my gin and tonic in the warm winter sunshine (it’s about 30 degrees here right now) but, strangely, I find myself lusting after coats, shearling jackets and knee-high leather boots.
And I suppose there’s some logic in that. It’s been nearly 14 years since I last wore a coat – the idea of putting another garment over the top of my clothes is a total novelty and I can’t get enough of this year’s cover-all maxi coats.
But what I’ve really fallen in love with is a cream faux-fur jacket from Marc Jacobs. It’s definitely an investment buy to last a lifetime. But will I ever get to wear it?
We have new neighbours. A bit like field mice, I know they’re there, but I’m yet to set eyes on them.
I was first alerted when their kitchen door, which is easily visible from our own kitchen, was left open. It was a big clue because, part from during estate agent viewings, it’s been firmly shut since the last tenant moved out six months ago.
Then I heard voices in the garden. Later, one of the kitchen blinds inched half way up the window – enough to show someone was there; but not enough to show me who it was who’d welcomed in the sunshine.
Given we could use some more small children on the street (not in the least for odd jobs), I’m desperate to find out more but, while I play cat and mouse with the shy new neighbours, Gerlie’s the only one who’s set eyes on a flesh-and-blood member of the new family.
“She’s very nice,” she said of the lady she happened across in the street. Gerlie then probably wished she’d kept her mouth shut as I interrogated her intensely about our new neighbour’s likely age, nationality, dress sense and, most importantly, potential children.
While Gerlie’s no Sherlock Holmes, her one small chat with our new neighbour did manage to yield the following information: The lady looks quite nice. She has a very small baby and two more children, possibly aged two and four. She’s from America, though possibly from a different ethnic group (“She has white skin, I think,” said Gerlie, “but she’s speaking not English in the garden.”) She’s probably new to Dubai. She’s quite pretty and doesn’t wear a hijab. There’s no car in the drive.
She sounds alright, doesn’t she?
So, the bottom line is: Should I go over and welcome the new family? Should I take over a cup of sugar as old-fashioned British manners would dictate? Normally I would but, for a start, it being a rental house that used to be used for short-term lets, I’ve no idea how long they’re going to be there – it could even be only a month. And, most importantly, what if we don’t like each other and the introduction becomes “that awkward moment” that’s the only time we ever speak in the five years they may go on to live there?
Better to maintain a distance for now, I think. Anyone got any binoculars?
If you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you’ll know that last winter saw the transformation of yours truly from couch potato and habitual exercise-shunner into someone who owned a bike and actually rode it sometimes (though I refused to wear Lycra for some time – click here for that particular post).
I even built up to the marathon trek that is the 9.4km ride around the perimeter of the Ranches.
Anyway, over the summer, the strangest thing happened: When I could no longer go out on the bike as it was too hot, I began to miss it. I did a bit of indoor exercise to keep the flab at bay but, in my heart, I longed to be back on my bike, free-wheeling down Mirador Avenue in the early-morning sunshine (oh yes, I go the downhill way around AR!).
So now I’ve started thinking of myself as someone who cycles frequently. A “cyclist”, I even once said, although, when DH heard me say that he did have to stifle snorts of laughter.
And last week I found out why. We were having drinks with the lovely couple we met on holiday when the other chap said apropos of something, “I like to ride my bike.”
I couldn’t hold myself back.
“Me too!” I said enthusiastically. “I’m a cyclist, too!” Then, just to show I knew the scene, I added, “Have you considered doing the Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge?”
It’s a 92km trek that, to be honest, I pant just thinking about. I mean, it’s 92 kilometres! As DH looked knowingly into his beer, as if he could guess what was coming, I giggled daintily to show how ridiculous the idea of cycling 92km might be.
“Yes,” he said. “I’ve entered. I do quite a few international competitions actually.”
I don’t think DH will ever let me and my Lycra cycling shorts live it down.
We all have to-do lists. When I worked, I had them on post-it notes stuck all over my desk. But, as a housewife, my to-do lists have to be filed because there are so many of them.
There are to-do lists concerning house and car maintenance, banking and investments, schools, nurseries, the children, Christmas, birthdays, play dates, groceries, cooking and health check-ups. There are to-do lists to do with beauty maintenance, shopping, reading and socialising.
They are many but, mostly, they get done, simply because they have to be done in order to keep the house running smoothly, the children healthy and happy and DH in disposable contact lenses.
But then there’s what I call my tedious to-do list. This is the one that’s written on a page of a small notebook that sits on my desk. The headings are vague and hopeful, such as, “Things to do before Christmas” or “Projects – Autumn 2011.”
They’re non-essential things, but they’re things that would probably make life a little better if they were to be done. They sit in the back of my mind like smelly skunks, releasing little wafts of odour into my consciousness every now and then (usually on insomnia nights) but never appearing important enough to actually get around to doing in my precious few child-free hours.
Here’s my Tedious To-Do List.
- Get broken pieces of jewellery fixed at Gold & Diamond Park.
- Get ill-fitting clothes altered at the tailor’s.
- Take DD and DS to the dentist.
- Check out Dragon Mart for new floor tiles.
- Design our new dining table – and commission someone to make it.
- Get shelves fitted into the storage cupboards.
- Spray-paint all the gold or wooden picture frames in the house silver or white.
- Put all my unwanted furniture on Dubizzle.
- Get all the photos since Feb 2010 printed out and put in photo albums.
- Get my teeth whitened.
- Vacuum the sand from inside the car and, if I can be bothered, clean the leather upholstery.
- Take Gerlie to get her National ID card
What’s your Tedious To-Do List?
…is that they’re rarely all nice.
You know how it is when you meet other families on holiday: Even if they have the right number and age of children to match your own, there’s no guarantee that you’re all going to get along.
Often what happens with us is that DD will like another family’s DD but I won’t be able to stand the mum; or I’ll like the mum but DH will think the other DH is a plonker; or DH and I will like the parents, but the children beat each other up.
So, on holiday last week, I was quite surprised that we gelled with another family and, amazingly, they were from Dubai, too.
It started when the other mum got chatting to me in the pool as we shadowed our toddlers up and down the shallow end, barely concealing our mutual wish to be reading pulp fiction on the sunloungers rather than saving toddlers from death by drowning.
Our two daughters formed a fast friendship, becoming inseparable in about, ooh, 10 minutes.
And, once we mums started chatting, we never stopped. It was like we’d known each other for years. Then suddenly it was lunchtime and, with that, crunch-time. We took the executive decision that the families would lunch together and the big question was: Would the dads get on?
Amazingly, they did.
And it wasn’t just them. As we drank sundowners in the other family’s villa two days later, my DS and their DD were seen walking arm-in-arm back to their imaginary house “in the Lakes” to make dinner together.
It was “Love All” and we’re meeting sans les dads again this Thursday. I hope it wasn’t just a holiday romance!
I usually only use my own material, but this pic fell into my inbox recently and I felt it was worth sharing.
Here’s what happens when a Dubai taxi driver’s asked to wash his own car…
Well, water is more expensive than petrol!
I’ve since been reliably informed that it’s actually a Sharjah taxi. My bad. It’s still funny though!