Monday 31 August 2020

A visit to Charlecote Park, National Park - Day out with my dog

I took out membership with the National Trust during lockdown to give me a few more options of places Bob and I could visit and meet up with friends for a day out.

On this visit Peter was in the UK so we met up with Mary and her son from Over40andamumtoone blog at Charlecote Park in Warwickshire

Bob is just happy to be out, he has no preference to where and he's not even bothered by the weather, which is a good job as it rained for most of our visit.

Charlecote Park has deer and sheep, Bob is really confused by sheep, thankfully he didn't spot the deer, not a clue what he would've done if he'd seen them.

I kept Bob on a short lead new the water, as he likes to swim and I didn't have a towel to dry him off.

I also have a lead extension to allow him to wander a little bit further but still under control. bob has NO recall whatsoever and we've spent many an hour in South Africa and in the desert in Dubai just patiently waiting for him to come back.

The house was closed, but the coffee shop open.

If you've visited any dog friendly places recently, I'd like it if you'd share some of them with me.

Sunday 30 August 2020

My ever changing view from the balcony in Dubai

This was the view from the garden in January 2018.

The top photo was taken from the balcony August 2018

This photo was taken August 2020

As the crow flies from our balcony:
Metro station is 600 meters
The new building is 5.13 kms
The Dubai Eye Wheel is 6 kms

I've been documenting the construction of buildings in Dubai and construction projects around the world as well as photographing and research unusual building designs. 

You can see more photos of other building projects by clicking here Construction Photography

Saturday 29 August 2020

Week 35 - One Daily Positive. UK vs Dubai during Covid

Although I've spent large chunks of time in the UK over the past 4 years and am from the UK, I still consider Dubai my home at the moment. I've not really been settled here though as I find making friends here difficult and the heat means I spend large amounts of time in the home or when I do go out I'm in malls. I was grateful to have been in the UK for the first part of lockdown as I was able to go out and walk Bob for an hour a day and just sit in the garden. However I wish I was able to stay in Dubai now and am making plans for the winter to come back out here. I'm just struggling to find someone to look after the dog for more than a few weeks and I'd really like to reduce the amount of flying I do.

Covid is being managed much better here, I'm happy to attend medical appointments and even had my hair cut and nails done. Indoors here is much bigger, more space, temperature checks, social distancing and EVERYONE is wearing a mask, people respect requests from security guards to put a mask on, knowing it is punishable by law for failing to follow the rules. The only time I struggle with wearing a mask is when I'm outdoors in busy areas, such as the mall car parks and walking to the train as it's just so hot here.

Dubai's 'to do' list is for me to sell my car, close my bank account, tidy and sell the garden and sort through and organise packers to get some stuff shipped back to the UK. 

236 Sunday Off to Dragon Mart to purchase some outdoor lights, we had coffee out and spent the rest of the day in front of the TV.

Usually lifts are a free for all, as is any doorway in Dubai, typically as you try to get out, 20+ people are piling in. So much more civilised during covid, although facing the wall seems a bit weird.

237 Monday Up early and off to the dentist for a check up on my implants and a deep clean, scale and polish. I called in at Mall fo the Emirates for lunch, then had a manicure and pedicure and then took my car for a valuation after having it cleaned. We watched TV in the evening.

This is the view from the dentist, although my 90 min view was of the ceiling.

238 Tuesday Peter went into the office and I had a virtual phone consultation with a moving company. I did have a tidy up first. I sold my car for £800, it was purchased for £5,000 4 years ago. Cars are cheaper here than the UAE and the deprecation is the same as I would've had in the UK. I then walked and caught the train to Ibn Battuta for an opticians appointment. Peter met me for a coffee and a lift home. 

239 Wednesday Up at 6am to continue cutting back the plants and tidying the garden. Off to the bank to close my account. Stopped at The Souk Madinat but it was closed till midday, so visited Mall of the Emirates for a coffee and some shopping. Evening spent mowing the lawn and power washing the patio.

One of my favourite views of Dubai.

240 Thursday Up early to finish the garden, shame I won't get too much time to enjoy just sitting out there. Packers booked and arranged for Sunday, container will be shipped on Sept 10th. I spent the day applying for my tax relief in the UK, organising the shipping insurance and cancelling car insurance. We went out in the evening to visit a friend for dinner.

I have to itemise our belongings and list a replacement price for destination. There's no where to add things like throws or cushions so you have to be creative with where you write things down.

241 Friday Collected my new glasses from the Mall, bought a couple of cards, had a coffee and then off to visit colleagues of Peter's for the afternoon, didn't get home till after 10pm, straight to bed.

3 years ago when we moved here, this view was just sand. The building I took this photo from didn't exist either.

242 Saturday Met up with our friends for breakfast at Mall of the Emirates, did some shopping, went to the cinema to see Tenet and home to get ready for the packers tomorrow and to watch the football.

My to do list in the UK is to repaint the doors that Peter had to shorten and rehang after having new carpets fitted, finish painting the shed and restore my old dolls house.

After our belongings are packed tomorrow, I just have to clean, rearrange the remaining furniture, then I have a full week of doing nothing before I return to the UK, so I'll be doing some serious shopping now I don't have to take things I need back in my suitcase for winter as the container will arrive mid October.

Eating out in Dubai - Sponsored Post

Keeping the romance alive during covid - Sponsored Post

The Road to nowhere - My Sunday Photo

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Friday 28 August 2020

28th - 31st August - Post Comment Love

Phew it's hot here in Dubai, temps well into the 40's every day and not dropping below 30c at night. Yes we have air con, but the short trip from the house to car is hard going and all done wearing a mask.

I'm not here on holiday, it's where I've lived for the past 5 years. We were half way through a relocation when covid hit full force, so I'm back for 3 weeks to sort the garden, sell my car, close my bank account and renew my visa. 

I've been out and about a bit more in Dubai than I have been doing in the UK, had my hair cut, been to the doctors, opticians and the dentist already. There have been plenty of coffees and I'm planning some serious shopping trips while I'm here. 

The measures against covid are much better than the UK, although cases are rising as laws are relaxed, the current measures in the UK are similar to how Dubai was operating back in early March when I was last here.

I've booked a shipping date for next week, so have packers in to pick up where we left off in March, I've sold my car, no luck yet with the garden and I'll have a few days to rearrange the stuff Peter needs whilst living here and hopefully the house won't look so sparce.

Stephanie and I would love to know what you've been up to this week.

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Wednesday 26 August 2020

Keeping the romance alive during lockdown - sponsored post

My husband and I spent 4 months apart during covid, he lives in Dubai and I am supposed to be setting up ready for our new lives in the UK for when he retires in the next 2-3 years. With a world wide pandemic our plans for me to travel month on month off between the UK and Dubai have been put on hold.

For the past 4 years we've been spending more and more time apart, Peter with his work and travel and me with our growing family in the UK and Australia, visiting our adult children for holidays, marriages and the birth of our first grandchild, sadly there have been deaths also that have caused us to be apart for long periods of time.

We've met up for a holiday in Greece, Egypt and South Africa for a week at a time and travelled back to visit each other when we've been able to.

Sadly living in Dubai has meant expensive phone calls and text messaging due to a ban on voice over internet. It's also difficult to send and receive post, so we've ordered gifts from local companies for each other on line to be delivered directly.

Long distanced relationships are difficult and expensive to maintain, regular contact is important, taking time out during the day to speak with each other about how our day has been, who we've seen and places we've been is vital, to feel part of each others life and not living separate ones. Sending a message before going to bed and waking up to receive one in the morning which you feel valued within the relationship also.

Lockdown has been difficult for most of my friends, some who were dating have seen relationships come to an end, other who have been dating have moved in together during lockdown and I've got friends who are feeling trapped in relationships due to their personal social life coming to a sudden stop and now spending 24/7 with their partner with no respite from an unhappy relationship.

Peter and I have been together for 20 years, neither of us have used online dating, but we have many friends and family who have met their long term partners through free dating sites such as Match Me Happy where you can sign up to meet like minded singles in your area, where at least while covid is around you can still have the opportunity to meet up in restaurants and cafes for social distanced meet ups.

For Peter and I, relying on phone calls and messaging daily has helped keep our relationship alive, but there is something different about spending time together face to face, just to relax and enjoy each other's company.

Peter managed to get over to the UK and I’m currently in Dubai for a few weeks. The testing and quarantine required for our travels cuts time we can spend with family and friends but it does mean we have some good, uninterrupted quality time together.

Monday 24 August 2020

Eating out in Dubai

Disclaimer - This is a sponsored post.

As you can probably imagine there are a million and one places to eat in Dubai, from food halls to 7 star hotel restaurants. The choice is endless, with cuisine and restaurants from all over the world. 

There are afternoon teas, brunches, fine and casual dining as well as fast food restaurants, fish restaurants on the beach to shawarma stands and endless food deliveries.

A typical dessert display at a Brunch.

Afternoon Birthday Tea in the Burj Al Arab.

I've lived here with my husband for 5 years and we spend more time deciding where to eat than we actually do eating. 

Peter and I have different food preferences and since I can no longer eat wheat, deciding where to eat is getting harder. We tend to prefer brunches but with the current situation of social distancing with the virus, brunches aren't a viable option for us at the moment, we have had a couple of food hall meals and have been looking for somewhere to eat out, before I return to the UK in 2 weeks.

In the past we've purchased apps that offer 2 for 1 deals on eating out, but I often find there are no links to the website and often phone numbers aren't answered as well as offers being withdrawn.

We have had a few meals where the party vibe has been too much, with dancing on tables to places with no atmosphere at all, both of which can really impact on your dining experience.

Another requirement of ours when selecting a venue to eat out, other than range of food, an alcohol licence and price is the location and the views. 

Restaurant Views

I was asked to review Dubai restaurants and I'm pleased to say I was able to successfully find a restaurant that suited our requirements with minimal effort.

The website allows me to narrow down my choices on where to dine based on my current location, from a food truck on the beach to a nearby cafĂ© which I find particularly useful when we’ve been out for a day or have visitors.

On the website I was able to select my preferred price range which is handy is you're on a budget. Another good feature is selecting the type of food you want to eat and the type of restaurant, so you know if it's fine dining or casual. 

Next you can select if you're looking for a brunch, breakfast, lunch or dinner and find select the ambience from relaxed to party vibes. 

If you're looking to celebrate a special birthday or occasion you can request this also and the website will show you which type of restaurant will suit your planned visit.

I could also make a reservation and check out the website for menu choices and there are active telephone numbers I could call to check on dietary requirements. 

I'll let you know where we chose to eat out, the menu choice we made and the views in an instagram post.

Sunday 23 August 2020

The Road to nowhere - My Sunday Photo

This is the road to nowhere. The E44 Al Khail Road just stops here. It's a 12 lane highway.

It crosses over the E311 and just stops.

Saturday 22 August 2020

Week 34 - One Daily Positive

I'm back in Dubai for the next 3 weeks. If you thought the UK heatwave was hot, you should try Dubai in summer, it was 37c when I landed at midnight. The humidex factor (opposite of the wind chill factor) added another 13c to the 'feels like' temperature.

It's good to be back after 5 months, so familiar, it's really weird having 2 homes, where you can just step from one to another. I only travelled with my handbag and laptop as I have everything here I need. I will be taking some more clothes and some personal belongings back to the UK with me though. I even just got back into the car and drove without a 2nd thought on the opposite side of the road. It's amazing how the brain just lets you do this. I did have a few issues with operating the washing machine and turning on the gas on the oven though.

The social distancing is really good here, but then there is much more space. Masks are mandatory and enforced, plus temperatures are taken entering the malls. I feel much more comfortable here with how they are handling the virus, compared to the UK, although another lock down and curfew is looking imminent as numbers of positive cases rise.

229 Sunday Last day of camping and a detour to Berkshire to collect my house sitter, she is an old friend of one of the women I am friends with in South Africa.

230 Monday Washed all the bedding and towels, showed the house sitter around the town on foot with Bob, had an early night. I'm only travelling with a handbag, laptop and travel cushion, I'll be coming back with 2 cases though as I don't know when I'll next be able to get out to Dubai. Will be nice to have the car when I get back as I normally have to catch a train or spend time collecting car hire.

231 Tuesday Off early to Heathrow for my flight to Dubai. With Emirates Silver status I get to board first, sadly the flight didn't stay empty.

You can read here about my flying experience, I had a panic attack when boarding and almost didn't fly.

232 Wednesday Day at home re familiarising myself with where things are, the garden has suffered terribly with the heat, mind you so am I and I find myself saying 'f**k it's hot' every time I step outside. We went to the local mall for a coffee and a to do a bit of shopping.

233 Thursday I ventured out to the Drs, hairdressers and a food shop. We had dinner, watched a movie and  had an early night.

234 Friday I slept solidly for 9 hours. We went out to Dubai Mall for a coffee and to do some shopping. The afternoon and evening was spent just chilling out under the air con.

235 Saturday Up at 6am to do 2 hours of gardening before it got too hot and sort the washing out from March, yes you heard me right. We visited Dragon Mart, a large Chinese Mall to purchase solar panel lights, some items for the kitchen. The afternoon and evening was spent on the sofa watching movies.

My to do list in the UK is to repaint the doors that Peter had to shorten and rehang after having new carpets fitted, finish painting the shed and restore my old dolls house.

Dubai's 'to do' list is for me to sell my car, close my bank account, tidy and sell the garden and sort through and organise packers to get some stuff shipped back to the UK.

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo - Camping with Bob

Flying to Dubai with Emirates

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Friday 21 August 2020

21st - 24th August - Post Comment Love

Welcome back to Dubai where I'm hosting from for the next 3 weeks.

I've linked up to PoCoLo this week with my flight and arrival from Heathrow to Dubai. Most defiantly a completely different flying experience than I've ever had and was very different to my flight to the UK back in March during the first week of lockdown.

Dubai has been my home with my husband and cat and dog since December 2014, prior to moving to Dubai we lived in South Africa with our 2 youngest children for 4 years.

We are from the UK and our family home, that we took off the rental market in December 2019, is in Worcestershire.

I'm still a resident in Dubai and after relocating the cat and dog to the UK in February this year, the plan was I'd spend a month in each country, with Peter visiting the UK twice a year, until he retires in 2023. The hasn't panned out as we'd imagined. Peter was in the UK for 3 weeks for a visit, the previous 3 weeks.

I don't know when I'll next be able to come here, so on this trip I'll be selling my car, closing bank accounts down and have a good sort out of our furniture and belongings. We may ship some stuff back now as I'm in a 6 bed house with the contents on a 1 bed flat.

We've been rethinking our plans, but with Covid still around, there's not much we can do really other than take things day by day for now.

Stephanie and I would love to know what you've been up to this week,

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Thursday 20 August 2020

My flight from Heathrow to Dubai with Emirates during Covid

Travel for Peter and I is a simple and easy process. We decide when we want to fly, where and when and book the flight. 

For Peter most of his travel is for work, he gets a taxi to the airport, a taxi on arrival and off to his hotel/meeting. When he arrives in the UK for a visit to family and friends, I've usually travelled ahead of him and I will collect him and return him to the airport.

When I travel I'm visiting family and friends. On arrival in the UK I collect car hire or I'll use public transport to reach our home, just hiring a car for a week or two usually when Peter is in the country. When I travel to visit other family and friends outside the UK, they will pick me up and either lend me their car or drive me around.

Travel during covid has been a completely different experience for us both.

I actually left Dubai on March 24th, I was due to fly at 10am with British Airways, but on the 20th my flight was cancelled, I rebooked for the same day but at 2pm and on arrival at T1 in Dubai I discovered this was actually the last flight out and as mentioned above, the borders closed behind me. Emirates had stopped flying on the 22nd. 

It was a full flight and apart from the social distancing in the airport, there was no noticeable difference to how the flight went. I did have to isolate for 2 weeks on arrival in the UK but there were no forms to fill in or questions asked on my arrival.

My return flight earlier this week was very different. I flew with Emirates. I had a mass of paperwork to complete before I checked in. Health declarations, a negative covid test, permission from the UAE government to return to Dubai as a resident and on arrival had to download a covid tracer app and present another health declaration. I was required to wear a mask from entering the terminal in Heathrow, until getting in Peter's car in Dubai.

My actual flight with Emirates was very different, I've spent 5 months social distancing and only going out for essential shopping. I've also been enjoying social distanced visits with family and friends in the garden and when I've had to go out more often or have had people in my house, I've felt very uncomfortable and completely out of my comfort zone. My anxiety has reached levels where I've just wanted to hide away and tell people to go home and I've walked out of environments such as coffee shops and supermarkets when I've felt unsafe.

All the way from my arrival at an empty T2, where I dropped my car through to the departure gate, I was encouraged to keep a two meter distance from everyone, with areas clearly sign posted.

An empty Terminal, restaurants, bars and most shops closed.

Social distanced seating both inside and outside the terminal

Drop off almost deserted 

The same with boarding the plane

I fly regularly, I have silver status with Emirates, I get to board first in economy. Then 2 people sat behind me, 1 person in front of me and then a man sat in the aisle seat and all of a sudden after 2 months of social distancing, I was surrounded. I felt claustrophobic, I struggled to breathe, I just wanted to get off the plane and walk into open space. I knew I'd be unable to just get up and walk around during the flight as we were requested not to even queue for toilets. We weren't allowed to move seats.

I phoned Peter, he calmed me down and told me to explain how I felt to the cabin crew, by the time I rang the bell, tears were streaming down my face and I just wanted to get off the plane.

The cabin crew were amazing, I can't thank Jaime enough, she took me to an open space and found an empty row at the front of the plane with more space in front of me, checking I was OK during the flight. There was still someone sitting behind me, but I felt less hemmed in and more relaxed and the flight for me, which then proceeded as normal.

The cabin crew were wearing plastic aprons and gloves, we were given a Travel hygiene Kit, which I used during the flight. No menus were given out and the drinks service was limited to wine and beer only with the usual soft drinks and tea/coffee served as normal.

As we were leaving the plane, the Captain requested we maintained a 2 meter distance when disembarking, which I thought was the most ridiculous thing I'd heard in 5 months after spending 7 hours in one of the most claustrophobic environments I'd ever been in.

How anyone can get on a plane to go on a holiday if beyond me, it's not essential travel. I had to return to Dubai to renew my visa and start the process of leaving Dubai by selling my car and closing bank accounts and more importantly to spend time with my husband.

The UK Foreign Office are still advising against all but essential travel. To return to the UK in 3 weeks time I have to have another negative covid test certificate and complete a health declaration and isolate for 2 weeks. However this could all change between now and then so I'm keeping a close eye on the airline and both the UK and UAE government websites.

At least I will be better prepared for my flight home knowing how the flight will operate and therefore I'm not expecting the to have the same high levels of anxiety. 

Sunday 16 August 2020

Day Out with my Dog - Bob's first UK camping trip

We adopted Bob when we lived in South Africa and we enjoyed many camping trips with him when we lived there. Something we didn't do over the past 5 years in Dubai, too hot.

Bob and I along with the cat, relocated to the UK in February 2020 and with our furniture due to arrive back in the UK in June this year, I'd planned quite a few camping trips around visiting friends and potentially working on the European Golf Tour. However with covid hitting around the world, none of this happened, but we did manage a 2 night night camping trip with friends in Oxfordshire this week at Barefoot Campsite.

I'm off back to Dubai next week, Bob has a house sitter while I'm away and I've packed the 2 man tent in my case to bring back with me so hopefully we can fit in a beach trip towards the end of September if the weather holds up. 

Saturday 15 August 2020

Week 33 - One Daily Positive

Restore my old dolls house.

Arrange Covid testing for Peter so he can fly home.
Prepare stuff needed for camping weekend.
Clean house.
Put up curtain poles/adjust curtains.
Hang mirrors.

222 Sunday I was up at 6am, the rest of the house hold was woken by me at 9 as we went to visit child 1 for a social distanced visit in her garden at the care home. We only stayed an hour, with no physical contact and her not being able to verbally communicate it was never going to be an easy visit. We then drove to Cirencester to visit child 5, Hubby and son opted for a pub lunch, I was apprehensive about eating indoors, once I saw the layout and the precautions being taken I was happy to stay and eat also. We'd left Bob at home and took him for a long walk in the evening.

223 Monday Off to Bristol to see Mother in law. Child 2, 2a and 2b drove to meet us there and with our own picnics and chairs, we spent most of the day, socially distanced in the garden. On the journey home, Bob pee'd in the car, the cat had pooped in her bed and after cleaning everything up, I decided to sit in the garden but that was spoilt by some bloody idiot giving a recorder to a child.

224 Tuesday Peter rebuilt the inside of the shed, I did some gardening, washing, cleaning and prepared for my camping trip on the weekend. Spent the afternoon in bed with a migraine, no idea other than it being heat related. Peter had his covid test ready for his flight on Friday and we had friends round to sit in the garden in the evening.

225 Wednesday Child 2, 2a and 2b came up for the day. It's child 2's birthday, he is 31. I had planned to cook a roast dinner and with nothing else in the house, that's what I did. Was up half the night with the dog who was petrified with the thunder storm.

226 Thursday We took Bob for another walk over the Malvern Hills, dog beds washed, house cleaned and Peter packed for his trip back to Dubai.

227 Friday A long day, dropped Peter at Heathrow then drove back to Bristol for my covid test, then over to Oxford where Bob and I are camping for the weekend with friends.

228 Saturday  A lazy morning, walk to the pub for lunch through fields with sheep, cows and a bull, all on public right of ways. I walked back to the tent with Bob via the main roads which was a 8 mile walk with another pub stop.

On the blog this week:

Day out with my dog - Cogges Farm

My Garden in July and plans for August

My Sunday Photo - A very merry unbirthday for out Grandchild's NOT 1st birthday

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