Dubai's Desperate Housewife

Trials and traumas of a full-time mum in Dubai

Posts Tagged ‘Dubai’s Desperate Housewife

COVID-19 Distance-learning: Day 12

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I haven’t written anything new because it’s all a bit Groundhog Day around here these days. Just like that strange week between Christmas and New Year, only with cake rather than cheese.

But today I feel like I won the Golden Ticket in Willy Wonkerland: I’ve got a government permit to go to the grocery shop at three o’clock tomorrow. I might even pick an outfit tonight and wash my hair! Whoo-hoo! Party like it’s 2020!

Meanwhile, in other news: I know everything there is to know about Shakespeare (37 plays; allegedly died on his birthday. Thank God that project’s finished), I can do ratios in my sleep, even the lockdown’s locked down, and home-schooling’s going to continue 10 days a week till 2065.

How are you getting on?

Phrase of the day:

‘Mummy, I know you’re working, but can I just…?’

At the moment we’re reading:

Land of Stories (Book 2) – The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer

I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak (only, I think I’ve read it before?!)

Permission to get groceries at 3pm tomorrow #winning

Written by mrsdubai

April 6, 2020 at 5:01 pm

COVID-19 Distance-learning: Day 6

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I suppose it was inevitable. There was always going to be a bad day – and today was it. 

DS and I got through last week powered by the novelty of home-schooling, the joy of technologies newly discovered, the exhilarating freedom of video-chats and the excitement of swimming in our own pool after ‘school’ – not to mention the stern figure of DH working from home for the first time in his life.

But today it all went to pot. DH disappeared upstairs to work, and DS had to reach inside himself and yank out enough 11-year-old enthusiasm to get dressed, brush his teeth and start his maths lesson alone. 

It didn’t help that DD’s now on Easter holidays and prancing about in silk pyjamas eating waffles and making Tik Toks… DS, on the other hand, had to begin his day with a two-day maths project that he claimed not to know how to do, followed without a break by the continuation of the Shakespeare project. I mean… poor guy. The closest I get to liking Shakespeare is watching Upstart Crow.

So, I helped. But apparently not very well. We did the maths project: so far, so good but, during English, there may have been tears. There may have been a stand-off that led to sulking on the sofa. There may even have been both of the above – but, eventually, DS sidled back up to me and wrote three really rather good paragraphs straight off the cuff without any input. So, what on earth was that drama all about? Was your day any better?

Phrase of the day: ‘I just want to go back to school!’

At the moment we’re reading:

Land of Stories (Book 2) – The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer (DH is in charge of that)

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (different to anything I’ve read in a while)

Save The Cat by Blake Snyder (‘the last book on screen-writing you’ll ever need’ – let’s hope!)

Anyone else watched it?

COVID-19 Distance-learning: Day 4

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DS has discovered Zoom. I’ve no idea what witchery this is and prefer to keep it that way, but Zoom appears to mean that my boy can fill his iPad screen with the happy little faces of his classmates and chat with them about all the things that fill their 11-year-old boots with joy. Fortnite, obviously, and what they want from the Item Shop, and Minecraft and Tik Tok and crushes and how boring the Shakespeare English project is, I imagine, not that I’ve been listening in. Not at all.

            And I have to admit, it appears to be a wonderful thing. They’ve had a little pet show where they’ve paraded their pets for each other; I think there may have been a dance-off involving Renegade (if you’re that way inclined, you can learn it here); I’ve heard rumours of a talent show… and today I found DS video-chatting with a girl in his class as they did their maths together. Props to the switched-on class mum who got them all interacting in these strange times. 

            But, of course, I’m not used to having a son videoconferencing at the dining table. Oh no I’m not. 

            ‘Mummy,’ DS said today as I pottered about the kitchen singing along to that self-isolating version of ‘I Will Survive’ that’s gone viral. ‘Mummy, you do know everyone can hear you?’ 

            So, of course I went over to say hello to DS’s friends. 

            ‘Hi!’ I said, waving happily from behind his head and doing a little dance move of my own. Tik-Tok-famous, here I come!

            ‘Who’s that?’ asked a lovely girl who’s in our house so often I sometimes think she might actually be my own daughter (she’s not).

            ‘It’s my mum,’ DS said in a resigned tone, and then I caught sight of my image on his screen: post-exercise hair, no make-up, dark eye bags accentuated by the dreadful angle, several more chins than I thought would ever be possible on a human face, and a strangely grey skin tone – I should be glad his friend didn’t associate that face with the, cough, ‘real’ me.

            ‘Enjoy maths!’ I chirped, diving off the screen as fast as I could while DS shook his head sadly at me.

            ‘Oh, Mummy,’ he said. ‘You’re really going to have to learn to stay away when I’m on a call.’

Phrase of the day:

‘Mummy, you’re good at English. Can you give me five ambitious conjunctions?’

At the moment we’re reading:

Land of Stories (Book 2) – The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer

Those People by Louise Candlish (not far to go now)

Save The Cat by Blake Snyder 

COVID-19 Distance-learning: Day 2

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There was a certain calmness in the household today. DH was in charge of the morning alarm and, as I slapped him awake at 7.50am thinking we’d overslept by a couple of hours, he admitted he’d only set it for 8.00! Eight o’clock! 

Honestly, I can remember when we last woke at 8am on a school day – and, for sure, I had a lot more oestrogen and a lot less grey hair and back then. It was back when DD – now pretty much 15 – was two-and-a-half years old and still wearing twirly skirts and sparkly shoes (not Lelli-Kellys but that’s a whole different blog).

In fact, I’d thought her nursery teacher was pranking us when she suggested with a smile that we got the babies into nursery by 8am in order to prepare them for ‘big school’ which, over here, starts at 7.45am. I’d probably laughed and nudged her in the ribs – ‘Good one! Haha ha!’ – but no. There was no pranking and, ever since that dreadful day, we’ve been getting up at six. School holidays mean a lie-in till seven – so what in God’s name was DH thinking setting both the alarm and the coffee-maker for 8am? Oh, that’s right: he was Working From Home too. Ye gods, this COVID-19 has a lot to answer for.

DS was unfazed as we trundled down the stairs way later than usual. 

‘I can do my learning whenever I want,’ he said without looking up from his killing spree on Fortnite. ‘The stuff’s posted at 9.00 but I’ve got till 4.00 to do it, so…’ 

One shoulder shrugged in that annoying way Tweens have and, as I stood there looking at him, I realised that this was an Important Moment.

This, my friends, was a slippery slope and, I was teetering at the top of it, right at the start of Day 2.

It was a slope that could, by Thursday, result in DS spending the next sixty years, or however long we’re going to be socially isolating, lying on the sofa all day playing Fortnite and WWE wrestling and racing supercars on Forza whatever else Tweeny things he does, then bashing through his entire day’s curriculum in the frantic minutes between 3.50 and 4.00. 

I could see it happening. I could so see it happening. 

I pictured his teacher and tried to channel her no-nonsense approach. 

‘No,’ I said. ‘Maths, English, science and PE before lunch. Languages after. My way or the highway.’

And you know what… bar a ‘headache’ during Arabic, that’s exactly what happened.

Phrase of the day:

‘Can I have more V-Bucks?’

At the moment we’re reading:

Land of Stories (Book 2) – The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer

Those People by Louise Candlish (still).

The garden today. There are worse places to socially isolate.

The tittle-tattle bank

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I’ve been busy lately, planning the family’s summer holidays. Anyone who thinks you just go onto and click “book flights” has no concept of what entails a family holiday. Honest to god, it’s not an easy task.

I'm actually thinking of setting up as a high-end personal travel consultant after working on this summer's plans.


We have flights. We have stops in hotels because onward flights don’t connect. We have more flights and more nights in hotels because cruises and flights don’t connect. We have The Cruise (more on this another day, I’m sure). We have shore excursions and we have drinks packages. Then we have car rental, Spanish villas, optional WiFi and pool heaters. And return flights, airport transfers and UK car rental. We have different people returning to Dubai on different days. We have the possibility of a Skywards upgrade (fat chance).

And then, after all that’s signed and sealed, we have Gerlie’s flights to organise.

See? Not simple.

So, I’ve been doing a bit at a time. Disappearing into my office after dinner with a glass of Merlot and choosing airlines, seats, meal plans and hotels. Reading hotel reviews, checking airline timetables, viewing ship cabins on You Tube. And every now and then I make a decision and click “book”.

Then I wander back into the living room and collapse on the sofa with a sigh.

“Booked the flights then?” asks DH with a smug smile.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I have. But how do you know?

He knows because our bank calls him up, late at night on the sofa, to tell him that his wife’s booked flights to Europe, a hotel and a hire car in Spain and does he mind? Shall they let her? (And what does she need a 9-seater for anyway?)

Welcome, Dubai, to the 21st century. This, dear friends, is life as a Housewife.

Why am I looking so “youthful”?

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I had dinner with a dear friend last night. Although she’s the same age as me, she doesn’t seem as traumatised by the aging process as I am. To be fair, she’s very pretty (as I was told by my own DD) and shows hardly any signs of age on her porcelain complexion – so why should she be worried?

I, on the other hand, have been throwing a never-ending barrage of stuff at my increasingly saggy, baggy, sun-damaged and wine-ravaged face and, last night, my friend, who is largely unaware of the majority of my slightly pathetic anti-aging efforts, greeted me with the memorable sentence: “You’re looking very youthful tonight.” (I think there may have been a question mark, but maybe I imagined it. Maybe it was actually an exclamation mark of surprise.)

If they told me pigeon poo would take 5 years off, I'd try it.

So what is it that did the trick, I wondered, as we pondered the menu?

a)      Five sessions of anti-aging facial acupuncture? Definitely there’s less puffiness after that, but “youthfulness”? Not sure.

b)      The fact that we’re on school holidays and I’ve been waking up at least half an hour later than usual and lingering in bed with my coffee and Ideal Home magazine? Quite possible.

c)       The way I applied my blusher last night under my cheekbones instead of on the apples of my cheeks? Maybe?

d)      My slightly darker hair dye? (No longer the 25-year-old beach blonde.)

e)      My new supermarket face cream? For the past two years my precious and ridiculously priced Rodial cosmetics have been the things I would save first in a fire (after the children and DH, of course). But, since January, they’ve been impossible to get hold of in Dubai so I picked up a bog-standard £10 moisturiser in the supermarket – L’Oreal Derma Genesis, to be precise – and, I can barely bear to admit this, but [whispers] I think it’s better than the Rodial.

As I sipped my first glass of Malbec under the golden glow of the fairy lights at the golf club last night and bit into a deep-fried jalapeno, my mum, visiting from the UK,  hit on the real reason for my youthful look.

“It’s just the lighting, isn’t it?” she asked. “It’s very flattering out here tonight.”

Mothers, eh?

Written by mrsdubai

April 10, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Carpe Diem – or missed opportunities

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If you’re anything like me, you read and research voraciously. You think, as you browse the internet, “one day we’ll go there, do that, try that. Wow, that looks like fun. We’ll do that one day, when the weather’s better, when the kids are older, when we have visitors, when we’re not so tired…” You bookmark them on the iPad, tear out magazine pages, create “things to do” files.

And, sometimes we get around to doing those things, but often we don’t. We forget about them, or we do newer, more exciting things – let’s face it, in Dubai there’s always something newer and better to do than last year’s theme park, shopping mall or penguin-cuddling experience.

We never even made it sky-diving together!


I was thinking about this the other day as a dear friend left Dubai for good last week. Of course we did the drinks, the girls’ night at Rivington Grill, the teary goodbyes and the “see you in the summer”s, but it’s taking my brain a while to catch on that, after three years of top-notch friendship, she’s gone.

In the back of my head I’m still planning things we can do together. Dinners out, pool barbecues (now the littlest children are old enough not to be a liability), weekends at Zighy Bay.

And then it hits me like a sledgehammer that those weekends at Zighy Bay? They won’t be happening again. There’s no point planning a barbecue because she’s seven hours’ flight away and up to her knees in Cotswolds mud.

And it made me think: When I come up with these ideas, these plans, ideas for things to do, we should just do them. Stop waiting for a better day. Stop procrastinating because, before you know it, your friends might be gone. Carpe diem, friends, carpe diem.

Written by mrsdubai

April 9, 2012 at 5:54 pm

The big bed

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Given that DD broke all ties with her cot, with the help of tactical screaming, vomiting and falling out of it, at just 18 months old, DS has come late to the Big Bed party. To date he’s showed no desire to leave his cot – and I, as a mum who values her sleep, have also showed no desire to move him out of it.

But needs must – and when he turned three I realised if I didn’t get him out of the cot soon, I’d be paying for it in terms of therapy when he turned 18 (“Doctor, when I shut my eyes, I see bars!”) – so I had a Flexa bed delivered to his room on his birthday.

I bought the stilts for DS's Flexa bed, but at present it's still at the low level

DS’s joy knows no bounds. “Look at my big-boy bed!” he squealed, turning ecstatic somersaults on it.

My joy, however, knew several bounds, the most important one being that DS is now free-range and able to venture into our room at whatever time he likes.

Whereas I used to ignore him when he woke up and hence get an extra hour in bed (we’re talking 6am to 7am on a weekend here), I now get woken before 6am by the pitter-patter of tiny footsteps and a little boy clambering awkwardly onto my tummy.

It wouldn’t matter if he then fell asleep in my arms, but the dawn requests vary from “Read me a story!” to “I want breakfast!” and “Play with me!” which, honest to god, at 5.45am in the school holidays, is not welcome.

A week on, that cot is looking awfully attractive. I’ll deal with the shrink bills another decade.

Written by mrsdubai

April 4, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Life at a discount

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I’m the first to admit, I came late to the Entertainer books. First, I worked in media and had people throwing everything at me for free, from champagne and gourmet dinners to holidays and cosmetic surgery (no, I never did it, if you’re wondering, although one well-known clinic did once offer me a boob job, tummy tuck or liposuction for Christmas); second, I thought voucher books were tacky; and third, I had two babies and hence no social life.

In fact, for the past seven years, the thought of doing enough “stuff” to warrant a 400-page book of money-off vouchers was as laughable as sending the children to Mars for supper.

But DS just turned three and, in a fit of yoga-induced energy, I bought Entertainer Kids on a whim. Not only would it be a source of ideas for fun-filled family days out, I thought, but it would be a challenge. How many vouchers would I be able to get through in a year?

Needless to say, April dawned and not one voucher had been torn out of the book.

So yesterday I decided to dust it off and start working my through it. With my mum in town, it was the perfect opportunity. At a loose end in the afternoon, we drove to Palm Jumeirah and took the monorail up to Atlantis (nice views – Dhs 25 return), where we used two vouchers to get the four of us into The Lost Chambers at a 50 per cent discount.

Pink jellyfish at The Lost Chambers. Who knew they swam upside down?


“Mummy, I’m having so much fun!” squealed DD as she skipped from tanks of prehistoric dinosauresquey fish that were bigger than DH to tanks of neon-pink jellyfish.

“Me too!” squealed DS, because he’s three.

I couldn’t believe it was such a hit. We even spent 10 minutes sitting in front of the main aquarium, quietly hypnotised by the fish swimming past. I did wonder, though, if DD’d got the right end of the stick, when she said, “Mummy! Look at that one! It would make such a pretty handbag!” (Leopard print with flashes of neon blue and yellow, by the way – she wasn’t wrong.)

50 per cent off haircuts tomorrow; Thursday, the world’s our oyster.

This weekend, I will be a party planner

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It’s not my natural habitat, hosting parties. Any of my friends – especially my Cancer and Virgo friends who care about details – will testify that I’m actually quite rubbish at it.

But I’m an Aquarius, for goodness’ sake. All we care about is that our dearest friends come, and that they have a good time. We don’t notice details. We don’t notice that there’s no table centrepiece, and no candles; that the wine glasses are different sizes or that the crockery doesn’t match. And we don’t give a damn about the colour scheme, that the napkins are from Ikea, or that the flowers are wafting too much of the wrong scent across the garden.

Honestly, all we want is to do is show our dear friends – the people who light up our lives – how much we appreciate them.

So I was somewhat out of my league last weekend, when I realised that I had organised myself not only into hosting a dinner party for 20 on Thursday night (Thursday! What was I thinking? DH wasn’t even there to help me set up!), but also a birthday party for DS at home on Saturday.

Mad as cheese. That’s what it was. Mad as cheese in the heat with bells on.

But I gave it a good go. On Thursday evening, my garden looked like this:


Banquet tables and lounge music await our dearest friends


By Saturday afternoon, it looked like this:


48 hours later. Lights down, tables gone - puppet theatre ready to entrance 15 three-year-olds


On the whole, I think I pulled it off. But, oh my, do I need a foot massage.