Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Xmas

2010 is coming to a close. As I write this, I am sitting in Sydney after arriving here from Dubai for the Christmas / NY holidays. Our trip to Sydney was fine and uneventful (which is what you want on a plane!) and whilst the weather isnt brilliant, to be honest I dont mind overcast and showers as a bit of variety from our Dubai home.

The year on reflection has been a great one. Work has consolidated in Dubai and is now routine rather than the wonderous experience of oddities that I blogged about in 2009. Its not that it is no longer "different" but rather I have adjusted where what was once odd and different is now the norm.

On the family front, the year has been excellent. We have made great friends, have met wonderful people and have enjoyed many unique experiences. We have explored the UAE and seen many sites ranging from the view at the top of the Burj Khalifa which is a monument of man's engineering down to seeing the sun set over the mountains of Fujeirah as they drop into the Indian Ocean.

We have reached the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, which has been about a 10yr goal of mine to take Niki to and we both were extremely happy to see the kids still hang on to their childhood by dancing around with the Disney Princesses at Euro Disney.

2010 was also the year of learning new things... I have kept up my Arabic lessons and the girls are both getting very adept at French. Kate went into the IB curriculum version of High School and adjusted well.

Sadly though, we lost our first dog Zoe to old age and we still miss her. We also thought we lost Charlie the Cat too, but he came back after a 5 day stay somewhere else?! Both Niki and I had to make sudden trips back to Sydney for her mum and my dad for health reasons but we're glad that they both turned out OK.

But overall, 2010 has been one of the best years ever and we're very much looking forward to 2011. And whilst I know that I havent been posting as often as I once did, but this blog is still a great record of life and next year in 2011 will be the 8th year of Lime Kettles and I will keep posting.

So thank you readers for still reading and I wish everyone a very Merry Xmas and I hope your New Year will be a great one.

All the best!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dubai Birthday

Well, it was my birthday last weekend and given that last year I spent my birthday in a plane to Sydney, this year was a much better occasion and I celebrated with Niki and the girls and our Dubai friends at a big "brunch".

My birthday you see fell on Friday, and therefore as its the "done thing" in Dubai, we celebrated with a Friday Brunch.

Brunch is where you pay a fixed price and get to eat and drink (including alcohol) as much as you like.  It's definately an occasion to leave the car at home and take a taxi!  All hotels in Dubai offer a Friday Brunch and you can generally find one that meets your price range and you can also take a "non-alcohol" choice as well which reduces the cost of course.  Kids are also offered a discounted price and kids typically under 4 eat and drink free.

This all stems from the Arabic custom of having a Friday meal together with family (much like the Sunday Roast in western cultures) and 90% of all Brunches are buffets.

We went to one of our favourites - Beachcombers at Jumeriah Beach Hotel - in which the food is Thai / Malaysian and we pretty much ate from midday to sunset all the satay sticks, fried rice, roti bread and prawn dumplings you could poke a stick at with an endless supply of Tiger Beer.

Cost was 285 Dirhams a head for full alcohol brunch, 185 for non-alcohol and a token amount for kids.  We had 24 people, of which 3 were kids, 2 were non-paying babies and the rest were adults and it came to about 4500 dirhams.  Now to convert to Aussie Dollars, divide by 3.6 approximately which is about $1,250.  Where else can you feed 24 people for 4 hours with unlimited alcohol in a 5 star location for $50 a head!!

Now my head was a bit fuzzy at the time, but the bill did count how many bottles of Tiger we did order and the final total was 59 beers.  That was from about 6-7 beer drinkers, so we did pretty good!

I tells ya dear readers in Sydney, Dubai is a great place to visit and a great place to celebrate your birthday!!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

UAE National Day

Well after our trip to Fujeirah, we now have a 4 day weekend coming up with the UAE National Day on Thursday and on Sunday, its the public holiday for the Islamic New Year.  So four days off!  With Ramadan, then Big Eid, then Little Eid, National Day and Islamic New Year, the last couple of months of the calendar year here are full of holidays.  Oh and there was Prophet Mohammed's Birthday as well a couple of weeks ago but we didnt have a holiday because it fell on the weekend.

So, like in Australia in which the country seems to slow down after Melbourne Cup Day, here in the UAE its a bit more of a holiday mode.

Except for Christmas of course, which isnt recognised but many many expats do take some holidays.  For us Australians who are used to summer holidays over Christmas its a bigger deal than compared to the English.  The English celebrate Christmas Day of course, but then its back to work.  So most of my colleagues really only take the Christmas days off and maybe extend through to New Years but I am once again a bit of the office freak in that I am taking three weeks off.

December 21 to January 9 I will be off work but we are thinking that we wont head back to Sydney next year.  The airfare costs are 50% more expensive, the friends and relatives at home are busy busy busy with Christmas of course but also many of our friends are taking holidays away out of Sydney so the reality is we don't see everybody and it just seems so rushed with logistics for presents and booking dates in diaries etc etc.

So next year we may change it up and have Christmas in Dubai and see how it pans out.

Having said that, it will be good to get back to Sydney and see the people that we will see.  Other than my Dad's heart attack trip, I havent been back since last Christmas and I am looking forward to it and I wont deny, that I am keen to have a break from work which has been particularly busy of late.

But before all that though, its a Happy Islamic New Year and a Happy UAE National Day!!