Saturday 28 February 2015

Week 9 Project 365 Sea Shells

What a fab end to the week. Our visitors left on Monday and I was sad to see them go, when we lived in South Africa I would spend the run up to a visit worrying about how I'd cope when they left, rather than just enjoying every moment. in Dubai 'home' doesn't seem so far away (7 hour flight) and of course it is much cheaper so hopefully i'll be able to make more trips. I received my Emirates ID card and applied for my own bank account. This afternoon we collected our new car and can now go exploring a bit further afield and I won't have to manage the weekly shop on the bus.

Day 53 #onedailypositive #macro #fmsphotoaday #friends #snaphappybritmums #project365

Last day with our friends on the beach, in the rain, in Dubai. The morning was spent at Dubai Marina playing in the fountains, go karting and a spot of lunch. On the beach we collected shells and made some Beach Art and practised our cartwheels, a trip home on the train, bath and dinner.
Sad to be seeing my friends leave, but I will see them again when I visit the UK in April and our youngest son is visiting us over Easter, so not all bad.

This is my first attempt at macro and I'm still on automatic settings on my Nikon, I'm sure I'll get there, eventually.

Day 54 #onedailypositive #fix #fmsphotoaday #choc's #snaphappybritmums #project365

Fantastic photo prompts today, what else could I do other than buy some ice-cream on my way home from dropping my friend at the airport, after a fantastic, fun filled week and have my chocolate fix.

Day 54 take 2 #onedailypositive #fix #fmsphotoaday#cheers #snaphappybritmums #project365

Having misread yesterday's prompt as chocs and not cheers I'm having a second go at it. Nope I'm not drinking a Bacardi and coke, neither is the glass filled with red wine. We still don't have an alcohol licence and we don't care how many people flaunt the rules openly and get away with it, we don't want to risk heavy fines, possible jail and likely deportation. So my fix and cheers is vimto. In South Africa we could buy this from selected super spars but it cost around £7 a litre so we used to bring it back with us from trips to the UK for the boys. I'm not a big fan of squash, I drink far too much coke and fruit juices don't quench my thirst.

Day 55 ‪#‎onedailypositive‬ ‪#‎12oclock‬ ‪#‎fmsphotoaday‬ ‪#‎justbecause‬‪#‎snaphappybritmums‬ ‪#‎project365‬ 

Trying to keep in touch with family back home has just got a little harder as now we have a 4 hour time difference and a 2 hour time difference with our previous home in South Africa. I often have no idea of what day of the week it is, let alone what the time is. The kids have left home, I don't work and I eat when I'm hungry, go to bed and get up whenever I'm tired. These clocks are in different rooms in the house just brought together for the photograph and yes they are set at these times, just because they are. I can't bring myself to alter them after so long, I do sometimes confuse myself with the time though.

Day 56 ‪#‎onedailypositive‬ ‪#‎reflection‬ ‪#‎fmsphotoaday‬ ‪#‎nails‬‪#‎snaphappybritmums‬ ‪#‎project365‬ 

I couldn't be any more positive today if I tried. The house is spotless, dinner is prepped, caught up with letter writing and blogs and spending the afternoon on the beach. The sun is so bright it is causing a reflection on the screen so I have no idea how this photo has turned out. I have purple toe nails that need re painting

Day 57 #onedailypositive #grow #fmsphotoaday #allthingsred #snaphappybritmums #project365

These plants grow in a variety of colours in every garden in Dubai, in ours we have white and deep pink, walking around I see most gardens are the same and the plants/trees grow everywhere, but there are very few red ones. I've no idea what they are called, just that they flower all year round and they add a splash of colour to what would be a rather dull looking countryside of beigeness. 

Day 58 still life and hard at work 

Day 58 #onedailypositive #StillLife #fmsphotoaday #HardAtWork #snaphappybritmums #project365 

I love sea shells, I've collected them from the West Coast of America, Tunisia, Turkey, UK, France, Spain, South Africa and now Dubai. The variety of shells here is very small, but the quantity is great. My favourite shell collecting place is Mossell Bay in South Africa, the variety there is amazing. I spend my days alone and love to visit the beach for Beach Art, collecting unusual shells, swimming and walking as well as sitting and writing letters and having a picnic. I've always wanted to live by the sea and I'm very happy here. The Mollusks create these external structures form the salt and chemicals from the water, they process them and secrete carbonate which forms a hard outer shell, the shell is not part of the mollusk as it is formed from minerals and not mollusk cells. the mollusks are hard at work excreting carbonate in order for their shells to grow with them.
When you find a shell washed up on the shore it's because the mollusk has died.
A shell has an outer layer of a substance called scleroprotein which is similar to our fingernails.

Day 59 #onedailypositive #thankyou #fmsphotoaday #mytown #snaphappybritmums #project365

I currently live in Dubai, we live in the suburbs, we are no more than a 15 minute bus ride from a large mall, 15 minute walk from the beach, 5 minute walk to local shops and restaurants. We moved from Centurion, Pretoria, South Africa after 4 wonderful years, we lived in a security estate, but again no more than a 15 minute drive (no walking or buses) from a large mall. There are no towns, just malls and this is my favourite one where I can post letters, pay bills, shop and have a coffee. From birth to age 23 I'd lived in various towns, cities and villages across the UK.
I don't feel like I have a 'My Town' I don't actually fell that if you asked me where I was from I could answer that question. But I can say that everywhere I've ever lived has been home no matter how long I lived there for. I used to say home was where my children and family were, but it's just hubby and I here in Dubai, yet it is still our home. So in line with these 2 photo prompts I nominate Dubai as My Town (for the moment) and I say thank you to my husband for helping me feel at home here, until the next time we move.

Friday 27 February 2015

I'm an expat wife and I don't have a maid

Sorry if it appears I'm letting the side down, but that's just how I roll.

In 2011 when our expat life started in South Africa I went from full time job and studying for a degree and 3 kids at home, plus a disabled child and running a youth football club to being a stay at home mum.

4 years on we've moved to Dubai and the kids have left home. I only got my Emirates ID this week, we still don't have a car, although that should change tomorrow and I'm waiting for my bank card to arrive, we've been here since December 19th 2014 and only 4 weeks in our house having lived in a hotel.

We don't have a maid, although we do have a gardener and that's only because it's so hot here. We had a gardener in South Africa as again it was too hot and clearing up after mowing the lawn was hard work in the heat.

We don't send out the laundry, We don't get taxi's everywhere and I certainly won't be getting a maid even if I have a full time job.

Why not?

Well I guess I don't fit the traditional expat mould. I'm not a lady who lunches, I like walking and swimming as exercise and with the beach on our doorstep there's no need to go to the gym.

Today hubby and I lounged around the house all morning catching up with trashy TV and I painted my toe nails, we then walked 4km each way along the beach and back, sat and read books, had a bag of chips on the sea front, then I did the ironing while hubby grouted the kitchen floor, then we walked the dog to our local store to buy dinner.

It's 8.30pm on a Friday night, tomorrow we'll go fetch our new car and probably pop to Global Village for a look round. On Sunday hubby will be back at work from 8am till 5pm and after I've applied for my new driving licence and done a bit of shopping I'll catch the bus home (not a taxi) send off a few job application forms online and get the dinner ready.

Contrary to popular belief one doesn't make a fortune as an expat and many expats will back me up on that, well the ones I've made friends with. We are maintaining a house in the UK and paying a mortgage. The salaries may be tax free in Dubai, but the cost of renting is on par with the centre of London. There are UK boarding school fees to be paid, air fares for the youngest to visit during school holidays, accommodation and car hire to pay for in the UK when visiting, plus all the other associated costs. And don't forget our adult kids have birthdays, christmas and 'can we borrow some money for a deposit/rent/air fare to visit you'

Even if we did have a maid, sent out laundry, got taxi's everywhere, I'm not sure where everyone thinks the money would then come from to pay for my lunches, gym membership and endless bottles of gin.

Sorry if my life as an expat of volunteering full time, doing my own cleaning and ironing, breaks your illusions of expat life. But I've never fitted any mould and I don't intend to change now.

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Shopping in Dubai away from the malls and tourist areas.

Not everyone who comes to Dubai is here for the shopping, some of us live here and although you don't pay tax on your salary here, the cost of living is much higher than many other places.
Inside Dubai Mall

The Dubai Shopping Festival DSF, has celebrated it's 20th successful festival which runs January 1st to February 1st and was perfect timing for us on our relocation here when purchasing some essentials whilst waiting for our container and air freight to arrive. Including a massive discount of nearly 50% on a gas oven.

But I'm tired of the Malls now and having done all the touristy things I want to explore a little bit more of Dubai, the real Dubai, not just the attractions and the Malls.

Leaving the train at Diera City, the first place I saw was Diera City Mall, it was well signposted and whichever way you exited the train station it automatically draws you towards it.

After standing back and taking in the sights around me and confirming that everyone who drives a car in Dubai has a horn and every horn works, approximately every few seconds, I headed towards the bus station, in the hope of finding a few local shops. The guide books tell you where you can buy what and where, but when you arrive there's no sign posts to point towards the none tourist areas. It's a bit of hit and miss, but as long as you don't mind walking around and exploring, which is perfectly safe to do, you'll find some delights.
Two different style restaurants, the 1st one was more formal and near the train station, the second one, where I had lunch was off the beaten track, food was very cheap and very good and the staff helped me with directions to get back on the beaten track.

Another place to visit are the souks, but exiting the train at Al Ghubaiba or Al Ras you find yourself in the heart of the tourists again, but if you're prepared to wander a bit off the beaten track, head in the direction of the bus station again.

You'll find some amazing shops selling everything from material, hand made suits and dresses through to spices, gold, knock off handbags and wonderful little street cafes.

I've still Al Kamara and Al Jafilya to explore in search of quality leather handbags, not knock off, but if you do want a plastic designer copy then I've been told these are the best places to go to.

I found quite a few smaller independent malls, selling everything from Loom bands, through to toasters with toiletries, dried foods and clothes and of course what every visitor wants to buy when they come to Dubai, souvenirs.
The shops are packed full and you do have to rummage for items, if you have a pushchair or a wheel chair you certainly won't be able to get upstairs in these places and it can be hard to move around inside.
At the attractions, Marina mall and the airports you'll pay 4-5 times more for the same replica Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, magnet, carpet, sand bottles and camels. Be warned though, when you buy a stuffed musical camel form one of these places it is likely to burst out into a verse or two of Happy Birthday.

Check out the 1-19 dirham stores, souvenirs aren't made to last forever anyway.

Sunday 22 February 2015

My Sunday Photo Week 8 The Torch

Two days after the fire at The Torch in Dubai, walking around Dubai Marina this morning, apart from a fire engine you'd never know about the fire that occurred here in the early hours of Saturday morning, unless you happened to look up.

Reports from residents in the local paper say how fantastic the security guards and fire department were in ensuring everyone evacuated the building safely. Despite balconies quite literally melting away there is no damage inside some apartments in the affected area.

Residents are back in their apartments below the 38th floor, cleaning the balconies. Anyone between the 38th and 51st floors hasn't been allowed back in their apartments yet, but residents above the 51st floor have been allowed to return, under supervision to collect essential items, but until the fire investigation team have carried out their investigation, nothing else can be removed from the building and it will probably be a month before residents will be allowed to return to their homes.

Saturday 21 February 2015

Week 8 Project 365 Visitors, travel and sand storms

Wow what a week. Been a tourist this week with my dear friend Chrissie who I met on twitter 5 years ago and her 7 year old daughter. We've been up the Burj Khalifa, on the beach, on a water taxi on the creek and finished the week off with a desert safari. We've also experienced our first sand storm which went on for nearly 3 days and I think it could be 3 weeks before I can get all the sand out of the house. Hubby has bought a car which should be ready next week along with my Emirates ID and alcohol licence. Then the boring stuff starts....I'll be job hunting, wish me luck, I've not worked since we started our expat journey in January 2011.

Day 46 #onedailypositive #cosy #fmsphotoaday #spot #snaphappybritmums #project365 

Not a cosy spot as on somewhere warn to snuggle down, but for me it's somewhere to cool down from the continuous heat. It's a corner of the dining room that has a door and a separate air conditioning unit so I don't have to cool the whole house. It's mine and Bob's afternoon cosy spot.

Day 47 #onedailypositive #fromwhereIstand #fmsphotoaday #indulgent #snaphappybritmums #project365

From where I stand I see this. I'm not on holiday, this is my new home and I intend to be indulgent everyday by walking the 15 minutes from home to be here.

Day 48 ‪#‎onedailypositive‬ ‪#‎routine‬ ‪#‎fmsphotoaday‬ ‪#‎maybe‬‪#‎snaphappybritmums‬ ‪#‎project365‬ 

Everyday I go out by myself for a coffee, it gets me out the house, sometimes I go first thing in the morning, other times I go out in the evening. Today has been spent on the beach with @mediocremum and her daughter who are visiting Dubai for a holiday. I've had enough of the beach and enough of the sun so while they paddle and build sandcastle a I've gone for my daily coffee. Maybe one day I'll try one of the many syrups on offer but for today I'll just stick with my routine of a latte, on my own.

Day 49 #onedailypositive #bedside #fmsphotoaday #blue #snaphappybritmums #project365

On Monday I went to the beach and swam in the sea, my hair was scraped back in a pony tail and was sandy and wet and I wasn't wearing any make up. I passed a beauty parlour on my way home and thought I'd pop in and see if they had time to thread my eyebrows. It was the beginning of December since I last had my hair and nails done and although I've had my eyebrows threaded since then. The woman sat behind the counter looked mortified at my current state and tried to offer me every service they offered, I didn't know whether to feel insulted or Anyway, in response to the look of shock on her face and today's photo prompts I've decided to paint my fingers and toes. My daily positive is that it doesn't matter how I look, just that I feel good about myself right now.

Day 50 #onedailypositive #fresh #fmsphotoaday #really #snaphappybritmums #project365

Spent the day with a friend in Bur Dubai the Souk. We travelled in on the bus and crossed the creek on a water taxi. Having wandered through the narrow lanes we ended up quite some distance from the tourist area and we needed lunch. One of the requests for 'things to do in Dubai' was to experience street food, an annual event with the Dubai Food Festival, but the place we came across was street food, proper street style, while the Watermelon drink was fresh we really did have to ask ourselves if this was a good idea or not, guess we'll find out in less than 24 hours :-) the daily positive is we tried something new, we had an adventure.

Day 51 #onedailypositive #ThisIsSoMe #fmsphotoaday #cuppa #snaphappybritmums #project365

The perfect prompts today as This Is So Me, a cuppa tea. Anytime of the day, anywhere. Hubby (when he's at home) brings me a cuppa every morning before he goes to work, although most times I go back to sleep and wake up to a cold cup of tea. I also take tea with me whenever I travel, just a few bags of PG Tips, to get me going before I find a tea I like. Now we are in Dubai I can buy my own PG Tips rather than getting friends and family to traffic them into South Africa.

Day 52 #onedailypositive #matching #fmsphotoaday #sweet #snaphappybritmums #project365 

Afternoon and evening spent in the desert with friends, 4x4 trip across the sand, meal, matching henna painting, dinner, wine, belly dancing and camel rides. Lots of lovely food and sweet dates growing and fantastic company

Sunday 15 February 2015

My Sunday Photo Week 7 No more Sundays

My Sunday is your Monday and your Sunday is my Friday.

Confused? I am. The weekends here are Friday and Saturday, but with Friday being the religious day. The Middle East used to have their weekends Thursday and Friday but it meant they only had 3 business days per week with the rest of the world so Fridays being the religious day are quieter with shorter opening hours and Saturday is just a nightmare as that is the day, the world and their mother go shopping.

My Sunday photo therefore no longer sums up the week, it describes the week ahead.

We've been in our new home for nearly 3 weeks and our first visitors from the UK arrive tomorrow night. I AM SO EXCITED. Today was spent cleaning, food shopping and ironing. Pretty much the same as my sundays when the children were still at home and I had a job.

Hubby is really enjoying going to work on a sunday, it's the one day of the week he can reply to emails and catch up with planning with constant interruption from the rest of the business world.

Saturday 14 February 2015

Week 7 Project 365 I finally got my visa

The week hasn't started well I'm afraid, no dramas, just health issues. All this uncertainty and hotel living has finally caught up with me and I can't seem to stay awake. I finally got my residency visa this week, just waiting for my Emirates ID, then I can apply for my driving license and open a bank account.

Day 39 #onedailypositive #inmybag #fmsphotoaday #out&about #snaphappybritmums #project365

I spent the morning cooking and wearing pjs, I had no plans to go out other than the photo prompt for today. The cooking inspired ideas for the rest of the week, so I dressed, caught the number 93 bus and visited Carrefore, returning within the hour with a bag full of goodies to make soups, risotto and banana muffins. It's wonderful after living in South Africa just to be able to 'pop to the shops' using public transport.

Day 40 ‪#‎onedailypositive‬ ‪#‎energy‬ ‪#‎fmsphotoaday‬ ‪#‎snowdrops‬‪#‎snaphappybritmums‬ ‪#‎project365‬ 
Any suggestions as to where I can find snowdrops in the middle of the desert? So I'm cheating and took a photo of the sledge run at the ‪#‎MallOfEmirates‬ it's snow and a drop. Energy wise and my one daily positive I'm on a train to Jebel Ali with my passport TO FINALLY GET MY VISA. My tourist visa expires in 2 days and I really didn't fancy another visa flight to Oman and back.

The train to Jebel Ali was a new route for me and it was weird to pass through Energy station on route.

Day 41 #onedailypositive #ThisInspiresMe #fmsphotoaday #RaiseSomeDough #snaphappybritmums #project365

4 years ago I gave up making financial donations to #charities. I'll still happily sponsor a child with an activity at their school as I believe the message of helping others is a good virtue to install into our children, but I won't be sponsoring the cost of your skydive or mountain trek and I won't be donating to #ComicRelief and other organisations.
What happened to change my mind? I moved to South Africa and volunteering became a way of life for me, in fact my entire life and I was fortunate to meet some of the most inspiring people I've ever come across with my involvement in Santa Shoebox and The Viva Foundation. Alone we cannot stop poverty, but from experience we can do something to make life a little more tolerant and give hope and a sense of identity. This little girl in the picture is 3 and like all her class mates she had never had a birthday party, in fact if you ask the children at the Viva School how old they are, they are unable to tell you. Birthday parties are a luxury, actually running water and electricity are luxuries so you can imagine how far down the list a birthday party or a gift actually is.
I shall be back in South Africa in October to help collect, pack, sort and distribute up to 10,000 christmas gifts in Pretoria and will be making and selling cakes and crafts here in Dubai to raise funds for Viva to support education and provide their children with the opportunity to have a birthday party, a cake and a bit of respect. If you want to donate directly to Viva then please click here, citing Party and Chickenruby as your reference. 

Day 42 #onedailypositive #OnTheWall #fmsphotaday #two #snaphappybritmums #project365

This is driving me up the wall, I have no idea which light switch operates which light and for some reason as I've discovered today, if I want the outside light on at the front of the house, the switch for it is in our bedroom at the back of the house. So today I'm labelling all the switches and drawn a little map. Sad? No, we had 2 switches in South Africa for 2 years that we never knew what they switched on. In every room there appears to be 2 switches that don't operate any lights anywhere and yes, I've checked and replaced bulbs/globes. The daily positive is that today feels like the first day of normal, I'm catching up with blogging and sorting photo's and off to the beach in a bit to cool down after mopping the kitchen floor.

Day 43 #onedailypositive #pointy #fmsphotoaday #white #snaphappybritmums #project365

This photo was taken from our front door step. It is the white moon above the pointy top of the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building at 828 meters high. Everywhere you go in Dubai the Burj Khalifa is visible, from the beach, the bus stop and on a very clear day there have been reports you can see it from Saudi Arabia.
Now we are back in the northern hemisphere the moon and the stars are familiar again, it's strange though not to be able to see the southern cross anymore. Today's positive is we are fortunate, through hard work and determination to have the opportunity to live abroad and experience life as expats.

Day 44 ‪#‎temptation‬ ‪#‎fmsphotoaday‬ ‪#‎dinner‬ ‪#‎snaphappybritmums‬‪#‎project365‬ 

Sitting in the desert having a braai, there's a fillet steak on the coals and for dessert M&Ms, fairy cakes and fizzy pop.

Day 45 #onedailypositive #love #fmsphotoaday #hearts #snaphappybritmums #project365

Having spent 4 years in the Southern Hemisphere and now moving to another hot climate, it has been important to me to mark the seasons in some way rather than relying on the weather. In South Africa Halloween is in Spring, Christmas in the summer and Easter in Autumn. I marked the seasons by celebrating the events and decided the dining room was the best place to do this because as a family with kids and now without them we always sat down together for our main meal of the day. We spent this christmas back in the northern hemisphere but on the beach, no amount of penguins or snowmen on cards can make it feel like a christmas I knew but I do enjoy setting the dining room table to reflect the seasons and at least now at Easter when I put the decorations out, it will be back in spring again.