Sunday 29 April 2018

The Almas Tower

Up until 2009 and the completion of the Burj Khalifa at 828ms. The Almas Tower, also known as the Diamond Tower, was the tallest building in Dubai. Located at JLT (Jumeriah Lake Towers) it dominates the skyline as you look from the land towards the sea.

As the crow flies this is 3 miles away.

Viewed from the other side, it doesn't look that much taller than the other buildings.

Every tower in Dubai has a name and despite this dominating the Dubai Skyline, I've only ever referred to it 'the building that's the same height at The Shard in London, just to give you some idea of how big these building in Dubai are'

The Almas Tower is 306ms to the top floor and the antenna brings it up to 360ms. The top floor is measured at 279.3ms, with 68 floors of which 5 are below the ground.

The Shard (completed in 2012) is the tallest building in the UK, the tallest building in the European Union, the 5th tallest building in Europe and the 96th tallest building in the world, stands at 309.7ms, with 95 floors of which 72 are habitable. The observatory is at 244ms.

Last Sunday whilst visiting JBR (Jumeriah Beach Residence) I noticed smoke coming out the top of the Almas Tower. There have been several major fires in skyscrapers in Dubai in the 4 years we've lived here. The Torch in February 2015 and the Address Hotel on New Years Eve 2015 in Downtown Dubai being 2 of the biggest.

Along with 100's of other people I dialled 911 to report the fire. I was aware that I didn't know the name of the building and described it as the 'tallest one in JLT.' The emergency services were already aware and within seconds I heard the emergency services arrive. The building was evacuated and the fire was brought under control in 20 mins. it was contained to the spire only.

Quite a few people asked me what the spire is for, as far as I can find out, it's to add height, it's decorative, acts as a lightening conductor and can be used for telecommunication purposes.

Week 158 Bluewater Islands and Dubai Eye. Man made island a 210m high Big Wheel
Week 159 Dubai Marina - Reflections
Week 160 Dubai Frame. A window between the Old and New Dubai and a 150m high glass floor.
Week 163 New Metro Line for Expo 2020
Week 164 Hoover Dam 2002 - 2010
Week 165 Dubai Opera House What a difference a year makes
Week 166 Unfinished buildings. The Pentominium
Week 167 Mixing the old and the new. Coventry Catherdral
Week 168 New Dubai Metro Station 
Week 169 Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa 
Week 170 After the Address fire 
Week 171 The Opus Building
Week 172 District Cooling. Keeping the desert cool.
Week 173 Can I visit the Burj Al Arab

Saturday 28 April 2018

One Daily Positive - Week 17

Fantastic news this week Child 4 asked 4a to marry him on Sunday. She said YES. It'll be a while till the wedding as they're saving for a house.

It's getting uncomfortably hot now. Averaging 35c in the day, with the car temp reading 10c higher when it's been sitting in the sun on the drive.

My medical aid approval for the Bone Marrow test still hasn't been approved, they're waiting for my blood test results, but didn't ask for them.....doh!

Made the monthly phone calls home on Saturday, lovely to speak with everyone. It was also Thing 3's 1st birthday (my great nephew) on Saturday (it has been noted that no cake was saved for me lol) and 3a broke her ankle in a trampolining accident in Australia at the day out she'd arranged for Child 3's birthday.

112 Sunday started with cleaning the kitchen and dining room after yesterdays roast dinner. Spent the day sorting out some art and craft projects I want to do. Went for a swim at lunch time and spent the afternoon taking photos at the beach and the evening at Dubai Marina wandering around after dropping Peter at the train station as he was off to airport and spending the week in Kuwait.

113 Monday I was bored by 10am with nothing to do so I visited the Garden Centre and called in to see a friend, home via McDonalds for Bob's 5 year anniversary meal and spent the afternoon sorting through photo's and doing some gardening once the sun set and it had cooled down.

114 Tuesday Took Bob to My Second Home for a couple of hours run around. Spent the rest of the day just chilling out and got distracted by my new sequinned cushions, so took my laptop out and had a coffee, putting together a couple of sponsored posts for May.

115 Wednesday Spent the day with a friend at Festival City. Stopped off at Ras al Khor Nature reserve and forgot to bring my camera battery. Peter arrived home mid evening.

116 Thursday It was a very windy and humid day, spent most of it sweeping up the sand and managed to drag myself out to do a food shop after a migraine.

117 Friday We went for coffee and had lunch out at Dubai Mall, wandering around the new Fashion Mall. Spent the evening in front of the TV.

118 Saturday woke to another water leak in the bathroom and no electrics. Peter cleaned the garden and outdoor furniture. I popped to the shops and had a coffee. Had friends round in the evening for a BBQ and made our monthly phone calls to the kids and 2 Mums.

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo - Can I visit the Burj Al Arab? 
TriumphantTales, TweensTeensBeyond and PoCoLo - Women only in Dubai

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Women only in Dubai

Whatever your thoughts are about this it really doesn't matter.

If you live or visit Dubai, this is what you get.

I'm happy to sit anywhere on train or a bus.

Don't go thinking this gives you the right to a seat or more space as a woman.

It's just as packed on the trains and buses wherever you stand.

Or in the ladies section

It is well sign posted and for me the only advantage is these carriages stop right at the top of the escalator.

There are fines for men of AED 100 for being in these areas, but more often than not it's usually Emirate men travelling with their wife and children. Both wearing traditional clothing. The rules aren't enforced that much to be honest, but if a transport inspector does politely remind you that you are in a women's only area, one just moves along nicely, the same goes with eating and drinking on public transport, people do it, until they are asked not to.

There are separate areas at the local doctors although often ignored by husband and wife who really don't want to sit on separate sides of the waiting room for antenatal checks.

I have no desire to go into this park and neither does hubby and besides it's a very small park and there's much more on offer in the big park that the small park is in. We don't have kids living with us anyway.

So it's not a bad thing, there are very few benefits either other than when you are on the public transport and it is packed, fit to bursting, there are no surprises as to exactly what that may be that is rubbing up against you.

As a woman I have the choice of using the Women's Only section, it is NOT compulsory for me to have to stand or sit there.

Sunday 22 April 2018

Can I visit the Burj Al Arab?

The Burj Al Arab is an iconic building in Dubai. It's a dream honeymoon location and if you can afford it, it is a place to visit when you're in Dubai.

Although if you do want to visit, don't expect just to walk up and have a peep inside. With the number of visitors in Dubai every year, it's just not doable and at between £1,200 and £5,200 per night, if you can afford to stay there, you really don't want to be tripping over hoards of tourists.

But fear not you can visit, you just need to have a reservation in one of the many restaurants, can book for sundowners and of course experience one of their afternoon teas. If you're resident in the UAE you can get a discount of £400 at certain times of the year on the smaller suites.

We visited in 2016 for my 45th birthday and Peter treated me to afternoon tea in the Sky View Bar. It costs £125 per person and an additional £20 for a window seat.

Visiting the Sky Bar means you can see the whole of the hotel (minus the Suites). It is beautifully decorated with giant fish tanks alongside the escalators in the entrance lobby, the food and service was wonderful.

It was a bit strange being in the Sky View Bar with people who had travelled from all around the world, celebrating engagements, wedding anniversaries and big birthdays, while we had a clear view of our house, along the beach only 5km away.

It was difficult to choose just 5 photos, but here you go.....enjoy.

Burj Al Arab at night.

Looking back to the entrance foyer.

 1st foor, lift straight ahead.

Looking up.

Sky View Bar.

I have a million and one other photo's of various rooms, decoration, the food and the views. I took advantage of taking as many photos as I could because at these prices it was probably the first and last time I visited.

Week 158 Bluewater Islands and Dubai Eye. Man made island a 210m high Big Wheel
Week 159 Dubai Marina - Reflections
Week 160 Dubai Frame. A window between the Old and New Dubai and a 150m high glass floor.
Week 163 New Metro Line for Expo 2020
Week 164 Hoover Dam 2002 - 2010
Week 165 Dubai Opera House What a difference a year makes
Week 166 Unfinished buildings. The Pentominium
Week 167 Mixing the old and the new. Coventry Catherdral
Week 168 New Dubai Metro Station 
Week 169 Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa 
Week 170 After the Address fire 
Week 171 The Opus Building
Week 172 District Cooling. Keeping the desert cool.

Saturday 21 April 2018

One Daily Positive Week 16

I got out of sync with numbering the days for Project 365, thankfully it was only a week's worth that I needed to alter the day on.

It was a bank/public holiday on Saturday, Eid Al Miraj, as it fell on a weekend not everyone was given the Sunday as an additional day off. Peter was therefore off work on Sunday and it threw me for the rest of the week, especially as Peter worked from home on Wednesday also.

Eid Al Miraj is the night Allah took Mohammed on a journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and then onto heaven.

Peter is away next week in Kuwait, so it'll be anther quite week, with trips to the dog park, pool and coffee shops.

105 Sunday My car was fixed and ready for collection. Peter went on home to watch the grand Prix after a coffee and I walked round the local mall and met a friend for lunch. In the afternoon and evening we chilled out in the garden and had a BBQ with a friend who stopped over on his way back from working in China. 

106 Monday Woke up to thunder and rain, not a lot, but also discovered I'd left the garden sprinkler on ALL night. Walked Bob, popped out for coffee, tidied the laundry room, went for a swim and cooked dinner for the next 2 nights. Had my pre op in the evening for my bone marrow test and completed the paperwork for medical aid approval. Joined friends for dinner by the beach. 

Would you eat your dinner up there? We didn't BTW.

107 Tuesday Took Bob to the dog park and gave him a bath in the garden late afternoon. Bob ripped a claw, took a bit of persuasion for him to allow me to clip it. He also decided to jump up on my car bonnet and climb over to get to the boot, lots of damage to the car and no idea why he did it. Visited the pool and had an early night. Been feeling exceptionally tired recently, like I have the flu.

108 Wednesday Woke at 4am, after going to bed early after a fantastic sleep. Collected Peter from dropping his car at the service centre. I posted a parcel to child 3 and 3a in Australia and met a friend for coffee. Pub quiz and dinner out in the evening.

This is PO Box xxxxx Near container Terminal 3, Opposite Weir Engineering.
Yes, that is part of our postal address

109 Thursday Spent the day as usual cleaning and sweeping the balconies, went for a swim and had another early night.

110 Friday Up early at 5am which is my usual time. Took Bob for a walk and sat in the garden for a couple of hours before we went to Abu Dhabi to the Louvre. Every now and then this thought goes through my mind, often triggered by road signs or Iconic buildings 'What am I doing living in the Middle East?'

111 Saturday Slow cooker on and off out to Dragon Mart to buy a shed and coffee. Nothing else planned for the rest of the day.

On the blog this week:

PoCoLo, Best Boot Forward - Why I'm out of control in my life
Tweens Teens Beyond - When the kidults come for a visit

Tuesday 17 April 2018

When the kidults come to visit

Child 4 and 4a have been here on their holidays.

Most of the time it's just me and Peter and the cat and dog. Actually a lot of the time, it's just me or Peter and the cat and dog.

I like my own company, but I get bored and lonely. I guess what I actually like is just being able to do my own thing when I want and how I want, something I can't do when we have visitors.

At 46, I'd like to think I'm not old, but spending so much time on my own I get stuck in my ways, I have my own little routines and as Dubai is a vibrant and busy city with 5 tourists per resident, it gets busy, the roads get full, my stress levels go up and I retreat indoors.

The best way to see Dubai and explore the city is by setting off early in the morning. But 4 and 4a are in their early 20's and by comparassion they are party animals, night owls. Dragging them out of bed by 9am and having them ready for the day has been hard work. I've been going to bed later and I'm even more grumpier than usual.

After a day out they want to come home at 4pm, shower, rest, change and go back out at 6pm. I'm ready to get in my pj's by then having entertained all day, I'm hungry and get 'hangry' and having battled my way across Dubai already I really don't feel like doing it again at night when the traffic doubles, the number of people increases and everywhere is mega busy.

'You don't have to stay with us all day, just drop us off and we'll let you know when we want collecting'

So I took them to the Marina for 6pm and collected them at 9pm one evening. Of those 3 hours, I spent 90 mins dropping them off, going home, returning to collect them. During the 90 minutes of 'me time' I emptied the dishwasher, did a load of washing, walked the dog, cleaned the kitchen and swept up piles of sand from the house.

I find having visitors very tiring, I'm not on holiday, housework still needs doing and I have to adjust to being on my own all day, to accommodating others, not being able to just grab my bag and come and go when I choose, eat when I want and go to bed at my time of choosing.

I don't resent having visitors, I just forget what it's like living with other people.

Of course one of the benefits of people visiting is that as their unpaid tour guide, chauffeur and cook. I get free coffees, gifts, treated to dinner and lots of lovely company that I crave in a normal week and I get to book the activities and therefore choose the times and look forward to a day on my own as I send them off on a desert safari from mid day till 10pm. I also get to go places I wouldn't normally go to on my own, do different things and have new experiences.

Sadly when you're an expat with kids living in different countries, it's 'all or nothing' I've been learning to embrace time on my own, I have the freedom to travel to the UK when I want/need to and will be returning to the UK for the summer. Sadly, I still end up doing all the running around and the arranging or I just don't end up going anywhere. Although to be fair to Child 4 and 4a and their parents, they have looked after us very well when we've visited them in Northern Ireland

Dubai Marina Ferry Trip and the Souks of Old Dubai

One of my favourite day trips to take or send visitors to Dubai on, is the RTA Ferry from Dubai Marina to The Creek in Old Dubai.

The RTA ferry (Roads and Transport Authority) is one of the few places as a tourist you can view the whole Dubai skyline from and includes a trip around the The Palm.

For 50 AED per person, you spend 90 minutes in the Arabian Gulf, setting off from Dubai Marina (check times and prices on the website) arriving in Al Ghubaiba where you can catch the train, bus or taxi to return to your hotel.

You can of course do this journey in reverse but I'd recommend if you visit on a Friday to start your journey at the Marina as the Souks and museums don't open until 2.30pm.

Arriving at Dubai Marina, you need to exit on the lower ground floor with the Marina in front of you and turn left towards Pier 7 and walk approximately 500ms where you'll find the ticket office located right outside Carrefour and a lovely restaurant, La Gaufrette, where we often have breakfast of coffee and pastries before boarding the ferry around 10.45am. 

The journey takes you past the new Bluewater Island and the Dubai Eye, around The Palm, providing a fantastic photo opportunity of the Atlantis Hotel, pass the Burj Al Arab and along the coast to the new Dubai Water Canal. Stay on the ferry as we're heading to the Creek, you'll get to see the whole Dubai skyline which you can capture on an iPhone 5s screen and catch a glimpse of the QE2.

On arrival at Al Ghubaiba get off the ferry and turn right, following the creek side for approximately 200ms to Brjeel Heritage Guest House where I recommend you stop for a spot of lunch and use the toilets.

If you've visited Dubai before, are here for a week or are particularly interested in the history of Dubai you can continue walking along this part of the Creek, called Shindagha, where you'll find many of Dubai's Museumsincluding the official residence of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, Grandfather of the present ruler of Dubai. It is one of the oldest buildings in Dubai constructed in 1896. 

Continuing through with this trip, walk back towards the ferry and continue along the creek till you reach the Abra's. Where for 1 dirham you can cross the Creek on one of these wooden boots whose name derives from the Arabic verb 'abara' meaning 'to cross' These boats are also managed by the RTA. 

On the other side of the Creek are the Gold and Spice souks and are worth a visit. But I recommend if you want to eat or use the toilets, you do so on this side of the Creek. Return on the abr I'm going to take you to Dubai Museum and Al Fahidi Fort, where you can explore the history of pearl diving in Dubai and it's development into what you see today.

To get to the fort after your abra trip continue left and you can meander through the Souk, which in my opinion is the best place to purchase your souvenirs from and pick up a pashmina or two. They is some pressure on you to purchase goods and to barter on prices in this area, but be polite and say no and carry on walking, it's fairly light hearted banter. 

Don't be tempted to wander off anywhere though with anyone offering to sell you 'good quality, knock off, genuine, fake Rolex or handbags' though.

When you reach the end, turn right and you'll see the Fort in front of you. Entrance is only 3 dirham. 

Don't be fooled by thinking there's very little there, in the far left corner there's a spiral walkway that leads you to an underground museum filled with the story of Dubai.

When you've finished your visit walk back towards the ferry where you can get a taxi, on the Hop on Hop off bus or follow the signs for the metro, to get back to your hotel.

If your time is limited in Dubai, I'd suggest you stop at Dubai Mall and visit the Burj Khalifa having pre booked your tickets (saves money and guarantees you a slot) from 4pm onwards. You'll need at least an hour to reach the Mall from here as the walkway from the Metro into the Mall is actually 1km long and then you need to go down to the lower ground floor in the opposite corner.

You can however (if we are friends on Social Media) give me a yell and I'll happily accompany you, if you pay for my coffee for the day.

Monday 16 April 2018

I'm out of control

I'm done with being in control. 
I'm done with being everyone's 'go to' person. 
I'm done with taking responsibility.
I'm done with being blamed if things go wrong.
I'm done with being called a Control freak.

You see where others feel I'm control of my life, or feel I'm a control freak or feel that I just get things done, I don't actually see myself as any of those things.

I see a 46 year old woman, whose life is dictated to her by others. Other peoples needs, other peoples expectations. Like every other person in the world.

I don't live my life as I want. I'm a daughter, mother, wife. I can't have control over any of these things, as my mother, children and husband have their own list of needs/wants/desires and we all just have to fit together, doing things we don't want to do, or things we don't feel capable of, to be able to live together, however far apart we actually are.

I have no control over my kids lives. I don't want any. But I will help, guide and support them.

I have no control over my husbands job but I have literally followed him to the end of the earth to support him.

I had no control of my father's life or his sudden death last year and my mothers subsequent move to a flat.

Therefore I have no control over my own life, other than how I choose to deal with all the above. The only choice I have to have control over my own life is to live it on my own, but then I'd need to work and my life would be controlled by my salary and my employers.

We all have choices in life, we can make the right or the wrong choice, which could turn into the wrong or the right choice later down the line, even many years later. We can plan our lives with our choice of education, employment, decisions on where to live, who to date/marry, have kids or not have kids. But we have no control over external factors, other people and their impact on our lives through their deeds, behaviour, their wants and needs or education and employment choices.

We also have little control over our health. Yes we can eat healthily, not smoke or drink, we can exercise. We can also find a myriad of excuses to justify why we don't take better care of ourselves and we all know someone who ate well, exercised, didn't smoke and drink who died young, so it can happen to anyone in our minds.

I'm not good at delegating matters when it comes to my personal life. In my work life there is structure, predictability, clearly defined job roles. In our personal lives there is little of that. 

I'm not good at asking for help. Why? Because I often don't feel the need to ask for help, or too many times I've been promised help but it's been followed up with a string of excuses. It's easy to say 'just ask' but when you have asked and been let down, you just don't ask again. But this is often viewed as you don't ask, because you feel that other people just aren't up to the job, that they aren't as organised or as skilled as you. That they're not as capable as you, therefore you become a control freak, you won't let people help you.

But whereas I can't manage the effect of other peoples lives on mine. I can manage my own thoughts and feelings on how I deal with the lack of control in my life.

When I got married, had kids, I didn't make a sacrifice, I didn't give up a certain way of life. I made these choices. I didn't make these choices alone. When we became an expat, I made the choice to jump in feet first. Yes my husband said we could make a choice on whether we went or stayed. I didn't like the choice we made. I didn't like the decision to move to Dubai either. I had no control over a lot of things such as the actual relocation, the youngest having to return to the UK for boarding school. Yes there were other options, other routes we could've explored, but either way. I had no control over the fact that decisions and choices had to me made and I might not like the outcomes. Some decisions that felt wrong or right have since reversed.

I know I will always have to make decisions from the choice of restaurant where we eat to when we relocate to the UK and all the stuff in between. There are some things that others can't help us with, but their needs and wants will form part of our decision making, however they won't necessarily be part of the discussion or be able to take any part in our decision making. Such as the health of our mothers, our disabled adult child.

I have no control of my husband reaching 65 and having to retire and our relocation back to the UK at this point. We may choose to relocate earlier, we may have to relocate earlier. 
But I do have control how I choose to spend my time between now and then, how I react and behave and who I choose to ask for help. Just because I don't ask you, doesn't mean to say I don't have people to ask, who have similar experiences, who may actually be able to help in some way.

After all you're not going to ask a car mechanic to listen to your irregular heart beat, any more than you'd ask someone without kids to share their experiences of giving birth.

Sunday 15 April 2018

District Cooling. Keeping cool in Dubai

It's almost summer in Dubai. The temperature is hovering around 35c in the day and 24c at night. If you've never lived in a country with heat like this, you'll probably won’t have thought how we keep it cool enough to live in.

There's a huge difference between 2 weeks of holiday sun than to living and working in these temperatures.

When we lived in the UK, our central heating system was never notched up above 21c. I was in the UK this February when the temperatures plummeted below zero for over a week during the heavy snow and the country couldn't meet the demands of heating houses, offices and shops. Our boiler broke down in the house we rent out to our tenants. I purchased them 3 heaters to keep them warm while we waited a week for the gas company to repair and then install a new boiler. I was on hold for almost 5 hours on the phone to get the repair booked. In general as long as you have enough money, you can keep warm.

Now imagine living somewhere where the temperature is higher than 21c almost all year round, reaching almost 50c in June and July and work out how to keep cool. The aircon units have been switched on now and they will run pretty much 24/7 now until the end of November. Taking a cold shower isn’t an option as the cold water tanks can run out the tap at 42c.

Our Villa has separate air-conditioning units in the bedroom and 2 central units, one for each floor. We pay huge electricity bills up to £250 a month to keep cool.

But for apartment blocks, offices and Malls, the demand is high for multiple use so this is where District cooling steps in, with centralised production and distribution of cooling energy, via underground pipes to cool the indoor air of the buildings. They cool sea water which is then piped into the buildings where specially designed units use it to lower the air temperature through the buildings air conditioning system. It’s rarely any cheaper to use this method but it does allow the country to keep up with the demands.

In every district around Dubai, you'll see buildings similar to these below. It took us a while to work out what they were for.

Viewed from the Burj Khalifa, you can see the size of the building and the area it has to cool.

Week 158 Bluewater Islands and Dubai Eye. Man made island a 210m high Big Wheel
Week 159 Dubai Marina - Reflections
Week 160 Dubai Frame. A window between the Old and New Dubai and a 150m high glass floor.
Week 163 New Metro Line for Expo 2020
Week 164 Hoover Dam 2002 - 2010
Week 165 Dubai Opera House What a difference a year makes
Week 166 Unfinished buildings. The Pentominium
Week 167 Mixing the old and the new. Coventry Catherdral
Week 168 New Dubai Metro Station 
Week 169 Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa 
Week 170 After the Address fire 
Week 171 The Opus Building