Tuesday 31 March 2015

Dog walking in Dubai

Dog walking in Dubai

So far Bob and I can walk where we like, when we like as long as we don’t go on the beach or in shops. Bob must stay on the lead at all times.

Bob is from South Africa, he is a veld dog, he lived with us on a golf estate where there was little traffic and what there was, was very slow. We also took him to nature reserves, where again there was no traffic and we could let him off the lead.

Bob is very unsettled, not just with the traffic but the sights, scents and sounds. He’s off like a blood hound everytime we leave the front gate, we cross the main roads and he’s jumping out of his skin at the engine noises of V8’s and supercars, mind you it unsettles me a bit when one revs up alongside.

As long as I take a few treats with me, reassure him, order him to sit and keep him on a very short leash, we’re managing things, however we’re not as successful with air brakes on the bin lorries and are avoiding going out at certain times as I’m fed up of being dragged into hedgerows as Bob runs for his life.

It’s winter time here and I’m waking Bob early in the morning and early in the evening as even now it’s far to hot to walk out in the day time. I can imagine in the height of summer Bob and I will only be outside when it is dark.

Sunday 29 March 2015

Week 13 My Sunday Photo

For Earth Hour yesterday, hubby and I visited nearby Safa Park in the evening to take a photo of the city at night. Then took the same photo when all the lights were switched off.

It was quite foggy and cloudy and many buildings had turned their lights off early so the contrast between my two photos isn't that good.

Some lights had to stay on as the buildings are so tall, there's a risk for aeroplanes and lots of buildings had these weird blue lights traveling up and down the side of them, which we worked out were the lifts.

Before and After

Saturday 28 March 2015

Week 13 Project 365

I've had a very busy and a very long week. The week started with rain, but I'm afraid the temperature didn't drop much. Hubby has been in Turkey this week and apart from a coffee with friends on Thursday I've been on my own.

Even when hubby isn't away, he's out all day at work so I plan my weeks in advance with the help from Time Out Dubai and look for the free things the city has to offer. This week I've been to a Street Festival, to see a film in the park, a wedding fayre and to the souks to buy material to make scarves for charity and bunting and table clothes for my nieces wedding in the UK next week. I even snuck in some gardening, bathed the dog as well as his daily walks and cleaned the house of sand (again).

The house is already now, projects out the way and waiting for the teenager to fly over on Tuesday for the school holidays.

Day 81 #onedailypositive #leaves #fmsphotoaday #inthedistance #snaphappybritmums #project365

One of the many views of The #BurjKhalifa taken from our local #beach in #MyDubai I love how the palm trees flank the Burj. My one daily positive is I have the freedom to go and explore with my camera and capture some amazing sights. I apologise for the bin but I took the photo with my iPhone yesterday with every intention of returning today with my Nikon but there's been a sandstorm and I can't see the Burj at the moment.

Day 82 #onedailypositive #toomuch #fmsphotoaday #sparkle #snaphappybritmums #project365

My wardrobe is BORING, as try as I might I can't get away from jeans and T-shirts. I own a few smart blouses and trousers and quite a few dresses but every day I go out in my trusty jeans and t shirt and a pair of Birkenstocks. I've a wedding coming up soon and although I've chosen my outfit, dress, jacket and heels, I can't help but look at some of the more exciting clothes in the stores. I loved this top in Monsoon, I've had tops like this before, I end up wearing them once and decide there is too much sparkle for me and actually I'm happy in jeans and T-shirts, I just seem to like window shopping.

Day 83 #onedailypositive #Atreasure #fmsphotoaday #flowers #snaphappybritmums #project365

Probably my earliest memory after a long drive was seeing this vase on the window sill at my Gran's house. When she died, I was asked if there was anything that I wanted, despite my gran having given me many things prior to her death and I requested this vase. I'm too frightened to put it on my window ledge for fear of breaking it, so it sits in my glass cabinet, A treasure that holds flowers.

Day 84 #onedailypositive #half #fmsphotoaday #whereI'mStanding #snaphappybritmums #project365

Wherever I am in Dubai I can see the Burj Khalifa, including from my front door step, there are few places where I can actually view the whole of the Burj so most of my views are just half of it.  Not exactly on my route and a 1km walk from the train to the mall, down 3 floors and a walk to the other side of the mall for this shot but on a positive note after 3 months, I'm not tiring of seeing it.

Day 85 #onedailypositive #ILove #fmsphotoaday #OhYes! #snaphappybritmums #project365

There's nothing I love more than a coffee with friends. Especially when I only moved to Dubai 3 months ago and after the difficulties I had making friends in South Africa, mainly due to the safety aspect of getting out and about. The group of women I meet up with have a deal with the coffee shop and Oh Yes! I take advantage of the blue berry muffin.

Day 86 #onedailypositive #somethingwhite #fmsphotoaday #vintage #snaphappybritmums #project365

Another delve into my memories of my gran with a whale bone petty coat. I have no idea if it is actual whale bone and is very dirty and falling apart in places. I believe it would have been made in the 1850's if it is whale bone, if not, it could be anything from the mid 1920's. I have outfits from 1850 up to the 70's that belonged to my gran, including my favourite, a genuine flapper dress that I last wore to a Night on the Orient Express fund raising ball in 2006.

Day 87 #onedailypositive #give #fmsphotoaday #stationary #snaphappybritmums #project365

This is where I've sat stationary for 2 days making scarves to sell for charity in South Africa for education. I make, I sell, I give.

Friday 27 March 2015

Landlord/ladies, rental agents and tenants

I'm not generalising, I'm speaking from experience and I'm fed up of being led a merry dance by all three.

We are landlords, we are tenants and our middle child is now embarking on the world of work as a rental agent.

Our previous agents in the UK were on the side of the tenants, as in they was frightened of them and blatantly lied to us. Our current UK agent is fantastic.

Our previous tenants in the UK were 'tenants fro hell' our current UK tenants are fantastic.

Our rental agent in South Africa was fantastic for the first property, but on leaving the 2nd property she sided with the landlord.

Our first landlord in South Africa was also fantastic, our second landlord just didn't care about the property but cared enough to deduct cleaning charges for a room that according to the rental agent 'stank of dog' although the rental agent didn't mention that or even wrinkle her nose up during the exit inspection or even challenge the team of cleaners she had recommend to clean the house for the exit inspection who were still on site. The landlord also charged us for garden maintenance and we see he's had the front re landscaped which would explain the high costs. When we complained he also added that he carried out unnecessary repairs to the pool after we moved in and that we owed him R2,800, he failed to acknowledge the amount of money we spent topping up his leaking pool, which never leaked after he paid to have it repaired.

The current house we are in needs a lot of work doing to it, but we knew that when we rented it, we wanted a property near the beach and with character and room for the dog, plus visitors. The agent has disappeared, in fact he disappeared as soon as he got his money and once the relocation firm disappeared we were able to deal directly with the landlady and the house is being sorted slowly.

But I really resent the amount of time I have to spend supervising workmen, we don't speak each others languages, these men turn up unannounced, I'm a women on my own, it's not fair. I have to keep the dog locked away from them, I have to tidy and clean up after them and it costs us money in the form of electricity (currently fixing the air con) water (to fill the pool) my time (someone has to be at home to let them in)

Every time we've rented out our property and every time we've rented a property, I've taken detailed photos of before and after, sent the landlord a list of snags for fixing, or been sent one and in our case as landlords rectified each and every matter asap. As tenants though it appears we always get the rough end of the stick. Although after a long battle we did finally get some money back from our 'tenants from hell'

The house we have rented should've been ready when we moved in, cleaned and the air con working, not 6 weeks down the line.

Now excuse me while I remove a layer of clothing as I need to cover up while the men were in the house and clean up after them.

Thursday 26 March 2015

Free things to do in Dubai - Wedding Fayre

Flicking through Time Out Dubai as I do daily I discovered BRIDE DUBAI  is on for the next 3 days. Ok it wasn't free but entry was only 25DHs, the same price as a coffee in a fancy coffee shop and as my niece is getting married next month in the UK and my mum and sister are doing the catering and wedding organisation and I've volunteered to make some decorations and the wedding favours, I thought I should pop along and see what goes on in these places.

Despite being married twice, I've never been to a wedding fayre and often wondered what I'd missed out on, but it didn't excite me and even before I could go in they wanted my address, email, salary and phone number and again inside when I enquired about anything.

Very little was priced and despite looking quite intently at items on some stand, the only time the staff approached me was to offer me a cup cake, sweets or give me a demo on 3D technology, which I found fascinating, but I'm still unsure how it relates to a wedding.

I entered a competition with Al Rais tours and travel, wandered round, took photo's, was told off for taking photo's at one stand, yet they gave me their web address when I asked how was I supposed to remember the services they offer and checking out the website, if my intention was to copy their ideas step by step, they had quite detailed photo's that would have enabled me to do so far more effectively than my own photo's would've done.
If you have an unlimited budget and were aiming at the top end of the wedding market than this was just the place to go, but for weddings on a realistic budget, I found it disappointing and if I'd have been the bride, I'm sure I would have found my dream dress there which I probably never could've afforded.

However you could find everything you needed for planning a wedding. There were jewellery stands, but no wedding and engagement ring displays that leapt out at me. Wedding invites, albums, photography, make up demo's, teeth whitening, instant face lift sessions, Chelsea eyebrows?
Outfits for Mother of bride and bridesmaids, but I didn't see any information for the groom which I felt was bad as the bridal party would need to know the prices as part of their wedding budget.

It was however a fun way to spend an afternoon and I had the chance to visit the World Trade Centre and was impressed with their venue and facilities and easy access from the train.

Oh and the cakes, don't forget the cakes.

Bride Dubai is on till March 28th

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Free things to do in Dubai - The Archive, Al Safa Park

I love Dubai, I absolute love the free stuff to do here, it takes some searching for and planning in regards to public transport, but it is well worth the effort.

Every Tuesday I buy a copy of Time Out Dubai. it is packed with information from 2 for 1 drinks, deals with meals, places to go and things to do for all ages, and it also advertises free stuff.

I plan my week around it and I also plan my photo prompts for #project365 and #mysundayphoto. To see more of these you can find me on twitter, face book and instagram as Chickenruby and on Google + as Suzanne Chickenruby.

Tonight I went to see the movie The Girl with the Pearl Earring. It is one of many events offered by The Archive in Al Safa Park, which is a short bus ride from our house. There are 2 entrances to the park, I got off the bus on the Al Wasl Road, paid my 3 dhs, it was a bit of a walk to find it and I wish I'd taken a torch. The park is currently shut off in places making it difficult to follow the signs due to the construction of a new canal. So I will need to explore again in the day time before I return next week to watch Art of Steal, no idea what it is about but the bean bags were comfy, the coffee and staff were great and now I know that the blue lights travelling up and down the buildings behind the screens are the elevators, I won't be distracted again.

To see what else The Archive have on offer you can follow them on instagram, face book and twitter. I'm certainly checking out what else I can do there.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

My dog won't bite you

I know for someone who is frightened of dogs that hearing the above statement is not very reassuring, but if you are coming to my house every day to do my gardening and you can't be bothered to set a fixed time then you are just going to have to get used to my dog.

My dog doesn't bark when you ring the bell, he lets you in the garden with a glance and walks off back into the coolness of the house.

Every time they deliver the water on a Tuesday morning at 10am we have to go through the same routine. Every time a repair man turns up, today it's the air con service and there are 3 of them, we have a palaver of the dog not biting them and while we are having this discussion, my, so obviously not a guard dog, wanders off leaving me with 3 strange men in the house.

But what winds me up the most and it happened in South Africa as well as here in Dubai is when I go dog walking.

Bob is on a lead, when I see someone I assume they may not like dogs, so I pull him onto a short lead, either a) cross the road or b) walk between my dog and the other person.

He never pulls on the lead to explore them, he never barks at strangers, he just carries on walking while they, hop, skip, scream, run away (in one case the other evening into the path of an oncoming car) yelling 'don't let your dog bite me'

Dubai Street festival 2015

Having bought this week's Time Out Magazine as I do every week and checked out the 'free stuff' I headed off to Dubai Marina Mall for the evening, for the 5th Street Festival.

The event is well advertised both in and out of the mall and a schedule of events, with details of artists, times for each day and location, is available from the welcome desk as well as found on twitter, face book and Instagram

I couldn't locate the artists I wanted to see as it had rained earlier in the day and the schedule had been juggled around to bring the artists indoors. Having arrived at 5pm, the acts were mainly aimed at children and being an adult on my own with a Nikon camera I felt a little conspicuous so watched the acts from a distance.

If you have young children I'd recommend you head down there from 4pm -10pm every day up till the 28th March.

 Jack Flash engaged the audience and invited them to help out in his act
I particularly enjoyed The Saw Guy although I was surprised to hear him play a saw and not saw his assistant in half as I'd expected him to be doing.  

Sunday 22 March 2015

Week 12 My Sunday Photo Just a normal Sunday

Arriving in Dubai on December 19th and living in 2 different hotels till the beginning of February with 2 teenagers who returned to the UK before we moved into our new home, I've been trying to establish a routine. We had a full week in the house with all our belongings in their new places before our first visitor arrived for a week, then we had a week at home before hubby flew out to South Africa for work, then another visitor, hubby has flown to Turkey today for a week, then we have a week together and the youngest comes out for Easter, then 5 days later I fly to the UK for 2 weeks, on my return we will have a few days together before hubby flies out to the states for 2 weeks, then i think we have 3 weeks together before I fly out to Canada for 3 weeks.

So I guess this is my routine now, home, travel, visitors and repeat. This afternoon will be spent putting the food shop away and baking cakes, making soup and preparing a week's worth of meals for one so I don't just eat all the goodies.

Saturday 21 March 2015

Week 12 Project 365

A busy week and an unexpected visit from MIL. This weeks 2 photo prompts have taken quite a bit of planning and thought as to how to incorporate them both into one photograph. We've had rain this week and cloudy skies but the temperature has been in the mid 30s c. I've spent a fair amount of the week in the souks, searching for ribbons and material for my nieces wedding in the UK next week and I've been making scarves to sell to raise funds for education in South Africa.

Day 74 #onedailypositive #small #fmsphotoaday #mothersday #snaphappybritmums #project365

Went out for lunch with friends to celebrate a birthday. The staff provided us with an ice cream cake and a small gesture to wish all us mum's a Happy Mother's Day.

Day 75 #onedailypositive #after #fmsphotoaday #green #snaphappybritmums #project365

It rained in Dubai today, it doesn't rain much and by 'doesn't rain much' I mean it's like standing under a slow dripping tap. Brilliant photo prompt then?....'after' the rain, the 'green' grass grows, but what grass there is, relies heavily on constant watering. So today's picture is taken 'after' a long day (7am-4pm) walking around the souks in Naif looking at roll 'after' roll of mint 'green' material for my nieces wedding.

Day 76 #onedailypositive #hobby #fmsphotoaday #holidaydreaming #snaphappybritmums #project365

I'm combining 2 of my favourite things for today's photo prompts. Except I'm not dreaming of a holiday, mine are already booked and this year I'm off to the UK in April for my nieces wedding. Canada in June to visit my twitter buddy @alwaysaredhead. The UK again in September for my son's passing out parade and Oct/Nov to South Africa for the Santa Shoebox Project. Plus being new in Dubai, most days are like a holiday while I explore new places. But my hobby? I love to sew, at the moment I'm making bunting and table cloths for my nieces wedding, I'm also making scarves and bags which I will be selling to raise funds for education back in South Africa.

Day 77 #onedailypositive #text #fmsphotoaday #cute #snaphappybritmums #project365

Here is one on my 'cute' 'texts' son no 3 sends on a regular basis. The reason for his hair cut? He's joined the army.
Living in Dubai my family use social media to keep in touch including my mother. We have 5 children, 4 are adults and 1 still at school, the eldest is disabled so we rely on contact from her carers, son no 1, doesn't use any form of communication, but he girlfriend does. Son no 2 chats occasionally, son no 3 is on Facebook, twitter and instagram and we hear from him daily. Son no 4 is in boarding school and the building is really old and the walls are very thick so he gets his messages on whatsapp and the only time he contacts us is when he needs money. Mother is on FB daily and reads my blog and we 'chat' though out the day as well as Skype and phone calls.

Day 78 #onedailypositive #private #fmsphotoaday #eat #snaphappybritmums #project365

How can I incorporate private and eat into one photo? Having 5 children I've learnt to keep my sweetie stash hidden from them, however they've all left home now. But I still keep my secret (private) stash hidden away to eat. On a positive note, my youngest is coming to visit the end of the month.

Day 79 #onedailypositive #handdrawn #fmsphotoaday #healthyeggmeals #snaphappybritmums #project365

Again another difficult combination of photo prompts and after racking my brain I decided I'd doodle on an egg, but it's so hot here that the egg, combined with the air con on full blast, was damp on the surface and the marker pen just wouldn't work and I feared if I kept the egg out the fridge too long in another room it would cook.

Day 80 #onedailypositive #sunflare #fmsphotoaday #stripes #snaphappybritmums #project365

With the sun shining everyday in Dubai a sun flare was always going to be an easy option, but the week started cloudy and grey and it actually rained on Monday so I was a bit worried I wouldn't be able to catch a sun flare this week. So instead I've revisited a trip to Kruger National Park last September was hoping for a photo with a zebra to incorporate stripes but the sun has done that for me on this photo of an elephant.

Friday 20 March 2015

Drinking water in Dubai

There's a very good reason we buy bottled water in Dubai

There'a another good reason we bought a water cooler in Dubai
This is the colour of the water out of the tap

Tap water left, bottled water right

This is the temperature of the water from the outside tap
This is the temperature of the water from the kitchen tap
By midday the water is running clearer, but we still don't drink it

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Being a tour guide in your own country

Living in a foreign country means I can add 'tour guide' to my resume.

Don't get me wrong, I love having visitors, but I hate being a tour guide.

I'm more than happy to take my visitors to a local mall, gardens, historical site, building etc but I'd really love it if when we got there, they took the lead. I find it tiring deciding on where to eat, what shop to go into. I don't know where the best coffee place is, I don't have a memory bank of where the nearest toilet is at any given time and I can't recommend the best place to eat because a) I don't eat out much and b) it depends on what you want to eat and how much you want to pay.

Most of our visitors travel on their own, when we do have couples to visit, they hire a car, we give them a map, sim cards, a key, tell them what time dinner is (they don't have to eat with us, just let us know) and off they go.  I can then have some time off, catch up with some cleaning or just have some 'me time'

You see I spend so much time on my own, that even though I crave visitors, it all gets too much for me. It's all or nothing and I'm no longer used to being on the go 24 hours a day since the kids left home and on a daily basis I only have myself to think about so all of a sudden having someone else around 24 hours a day is tiring.

I'm not good at living in a foreign country, I don't seek it out, nor do I relish the whole process of making friends, finding new places, exploring. I don't actually enjoy it. It's just something that I do, I have to do. The only other option, which has happened before, is to give up and just sink into depression.

It would be nice when visitors come for them to say 'right, I've done some research and I'd love to explore a, b and c. Would you like to join me and we can explore somewhere new and different together?' or even 'I'm sure you're probably bored of taking visitors round the same places every time, is there anywhere new you'd like to see?'

But it ain't going to happen is it? If it does, it'll be because I've suggested it and as usual I'll be the one stood at the front with the map working out where to go and how.

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Just hanging around

I'm not very articulate, I talk a lot but I get distracted and end up off track and find it really difficult to explain how I'm feeling.

I hate being interupted with a subject change, which is what my family do as they think that is the best way to help me. In fact most people's response to anyone struggling with something they don't understand is to try and take their mind of it by changing the subject, looking at the positives and thinking they are helping the person to move on.

Yes, I can apply for a job now after 4 years living in South Africa, but apart from one of our kids and a nephew, no one else in our family has had to look for a job in over a year. I don't mean no one is working, but for example my hubby has been employed by his company for 30 years.

I'm not really qualified as anything. My expertise comes through years of experience, volunteering and networking to build up to my dream job, a job where I felt valued and it was two way. I had a salary. I did things for other people.

The past 4 years has been about me doing things for other people and as much as I enjoyed it and met some lovely people who have become very good friends, I didn't feel fulfilled.

It is important for me not to be pigeoned holed. I've done the single mum bit, married, more kids, divorced, married, step kids, worked part time in the chip shop, studied for a degree, been a SAHM, but on reflection I had a choice. I had to work, I could chose where I worked and what I did. Fed up of working in care homes on night shifts and evenings in a chip shop to make ends meet, I decided to study, to raise the stakes and I failed (at first) then a few years later I picked it all up again after working as a dinner lady in a local school, I became a teaching assistant, then was asked to work in the special needs department. I'd been a part time youth worker aged 21-32, so I had lots of experience with kids and alcohol, drugs, violent homes, criminal records, homelessness. I had gained a wealth of knowledge that I could put to use. After working in an autistic school, I did my teaching training, I got a job in child welfare and was lecturing in special needs and training classroom assistants.

Finally I felt like I had achieved something. I was still a mum and someones wife, daughter, sister, but I also had other words I could add to my identity. Regardless of where I was of who I was with, my identity was and is always 'Married with 5 kids' but I no longer can add anything else to that description other than 'none of them live at home anymore'

It's a conversation killer, let me tell you. When I add the youngest is in boarding school and that I don't work, it's a conversation killer. People tell me how lucky I am. I'm not lucky. My hubby works hard and pays for all of this. Yes I don't financially need to work, but I do need something for me.

I'd give it all up to go back to having the kids back at home, a career, a foreign holiday once a year. But you see the more you want from life, the more you want to travel, explore, earn, the more sacrifices you have to make.

In order for hubby to have his career, earn the money, provide us with the opportunities, the more I've had to give up on a personal nature. Of course I benefit, in fact a big part of me loves it, but while he's working hard, I'm spending too much time on my own. I don't want a job, I'd like a career. I'd like to feel personally fulfilled, but it's all too much effort. I don't have time to spend another 6 years building up my career, we'll probably only be in Dubai for 2-3 years, before the next move and then I'd have to start all over again.

It depresses me, I feel stuck in a loop, who knows what will happen next, where we'll go, will I even be able to work in the next country? Will I actually want to career again? At the mount I'm fortunate to be able to drop everything to travel with hubby, afford my own own travel and adventures, be the one to welcome and entertain visitors, spend quality time with family when they visit or I visit them.

I have the chance to start something new, write a book, enjoy my hobbies, rest, read, study. All the things hubby would love to have more time for but he's too busy with his work, his travel, his career.

We have a good life, it is our life and we've worked hard to get where we are, both of us, him earning the money and me raising the family. But the family no longer need raising, neither of us are ready to move back to the UK, hubby only has 7 years left before retirement. I don't want to to be in a full time career when he reaches that stage, we want to be able to spend time together, more travel, more exploring without work holding us back.

I'm just struggling with the in-between time and I honestly just don't know what the solution is, do you?

Monday 16 March 2015

A visit to Dubai Miracle Gardens

New in Dubai and now we have a car we can explore further afield and over the weekend we visited Miracle Gardens.

Parking is free and was well signposted from the Umm Sequiem Road. It costs 30 AED for entry and that includes a phase 2 ticket for the Butterfly World, the actual domes were closed but the garden was worth walking around. Had we not asked what the 2nd part of the ticket was for, we would have missed it as it isn't signposted from inside and after walking round twice hubby gave in and finally asked someone where 'phase 2' was and we weren't actually told what it was at the gate on entry.

There are 45 million flowers of 45 different species and the designs change throughout the season. Check out the website for further information.

Food and drink is not permitted inside, however there are various huts you can buy soft drinks and a variety of snacks from as well as a restaurant which is all under a flower canopy, providing much needed shade. I would like to visit again at sunset as there were lights intertwined with the flowers so I'm assuming that it is lit up at night time.

There are no signs asking you to stay off the grass, just men with whistles who just look at you and peep loudly which spoilt the ambience of the park Outside of the food areas there were few benches just to sit and relax on and no interactive areas, although the website mentions an aromatic garden but we couldn't find it.

All in all it was good value for money and provided a much needed splash of colour in the middle of the desert, although I wouldn't like their water bill.