Thursday 31 December 2020

Week 53 2020 - One Daily Positive

Everyone seems to be saying goodbye to 2020 like we've turned a page or opened a new door. It never makes sense to me and no one ever seems to have a good year anyway. It's just the end of another week for me everything has been up in the air and unpredictable for me for the past 10 years anyway.

I've no idea what day it is most of the time, it doesn't seem to matter. I know I have certain things to do tomorrow then 2 days from now then the 10th January and I fly back to the UK on the 26th. It's actually quite liberating, not having to involve others with planning and keeping them updated on where I'm going, when I'll be visiting next and what I want for tea a week on Tuesday. It's been a long two weeks without Peter. I've seen other people, pub quiz, coffee dates etc. It's been a long 9 months since the borders first closed leaving me in the UK and Peter in Dubai. Peter had work and contact with colleagues, I had the dog to walk, coffees to drink and social distanced garden visits. The past two weeks have been painful though, mainly because we haven't had an end date to look forward to and it's been completely out of our control.

362 Sunday Spent all day thinking it was Saturday. Popped out to Ibn Battuta for a coffee and change of scenery and the rest of the day on the sofa watching Netflix or in the kitchen batch cooking.

The Christmas Tree at Ibn Battuta.

363 Monday Early morning start for pre op assessment and PCR test, rest of the day spent at home, waiting to see if Peter was going to make it home. Until his flight actually took off, I wasn't convinced he'd make it back. I prepared dinner, he got to open his presents and we watched TV.

364 Tuesday At home all day. I have to isolate until my surgery tomorrow. Peter had a PCR on arrival and had to wait till early afternoon before his negative result came through and he could leave the house to pop to the shops, we spent the day watching movies and had a BBQ.

Everyone else was doing their Top Nine.

365 Wednesday Surgery was cancelled, no issues, so instead we headed off to Dubai Mall, Peter finally got chance to do his Christmas shopping (lucky me) and we watched Wonder Woman 84 at the cinema which we both enjoyed. Started fighting a migraine, my iron levels are dipping again and I've had a chronic pain flare up, just in a lot of discomfort.

366 Thursday Spent the morning on the sofa, then off to Mall of the Emirates for a coffee and some food shopping, then rest of the day spent on the sofa. We're walking round the corner from the Villa at 11.50pm to watch the fireworks from a distance.

Other than this one Christmas shop still open, there's not a sign that Christmas was ever here.

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Sunday 27 December 2020

Uptown Dubai - A super tall tower

Photos taken 6 months and 3 months apart this year and no sign of Covid slowing this development down.
All I can find online is that they are building a super tall tower, with apartments, offices and boutiques.
I'm in Dubai until the end of January and back out in March, will be interesting to see how much more it grows out of the sand.

March 2020 

September 2020

December 2020

January 2021

The building has currently reached 153ms and will be over 300ms tall when complete. It will have 81 floors and is due to be completed in 2022.

Week 52 - One daily Positive. Our Covid Christmas.

Things are much more relaxed in Dubai with covid than they are in the UK, although they did have total lockdown at the beginning, they closed the borders, introduced PCR testing prior to departure (now available on arrival) and enforce social distancing and the wearing of masks, including outdoors. However, I've witnessed large groups of people hugging and shaking hands, of all nationalities, people with noses hanging out of masks and if you leave a gap in front of you, either a whole family will try to fill it or the person behind breathes down your neck. As a result I spend as much time as possible outdoors and it is the reason my husband is stuck in Saudi until the New Year.

355 Sunday Swept and mopped downstairs, watched Burlesque and About a Boy. Took a walk to the local shopping centre to buy ingredients to make a pizza for dinner and get a take out coffee and to take more photos of the ever changing construction projects in our neighbourhood. Evening spent watching Emily in Paris, blogging, commenting and sorting photos.

356 Monday Woke to the news Saudi have closed their borders, no one in, no one out. Guess where Peter is right now. After a morning of feeling sorry for myself, I headed off to the Souk Madinat for a coffee and a walk, thought about some retail therapy but there was nothing I wanted. Afternoon spent sorting out files on laptop, TV on in the back ground and waiting to hear from Peter.

357 Tuesday Spent the morning on the only remaining beach that hasn't been commercialised, won't be long though as there are now life guard towers and it is a prime location, by The Palm and the Burj Al Arab. In the evening off to the Marina to meet my friend Cindy, from South Wales who moved here with her husband and daughter in August, Cindy arrived in October. We met through facebook and covid cancelled our UK plans for meeting. We had coffee and a snack and a long chat. 

358 Wednesday Popped to the local mall for coffee and a bit of food shopping. The rest of the day just happened with TV, packing, washing and ironing and then off to the Polo Club for the pub quiz. 4th tonight. 

359 Thursday Managed to sleep solidly for 7 hours, stayed in bed till around 10am then Starbucks for a coffee, called in at friends to drop/swop Christmas gifts and a natter, then onto the hotel. Check in was at 4pm so I spent time on the beach had a picnic then a swim and a walk around the area. Checked in, set up Christmas decorations, unpacked, went for a swim, shower and drank G&T in bed with a box of after 8 mints.

Had the shock of my life at 9.15pm when I was woken by a man entering my room to clean it. FFS, I've never been so frightened in my life. Hotel was noisy, I was overlooking the pool and I'd already been moved once. The hotel was basic but did have a restaurant/bar (service was slow) and popular due to it's beach front location

360 Friday Early morning wake up call when the sound system at the beach started up, full volume, demanding I dispose of my rubbish correctly. Drank tea, unwrapped presents my lovely friends gave me when I was in the UK, walked on the beach at sunrise and an early breakfast. I spent the morning on the beach reading and swimming, then back to my room to make the Christmas calls, then out for a festive (ish) lunch. Afternoon nap then an evening stroll and watched the fireworks.

361 Saturday Too cold to swim in the sea, the sun rise was gorgeous, I ate breakfast and read my book on the beach, followed by a stroll along the sea front, had a coffee, returned to the hotel for a swim in the pool, before showering and checking out. Met a friend for coffee down at the Marina for a coffee on the way home.

On the blog this week - My Balcony View 2 years on.

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Sunday 20 December 2020

Balcony View in Dubai - Spot the difference.

Same time of year, 2 years apart, different times of day and different cameras used.

December 2018 

December 2020

The street has now doubled in length and most of the houses occupied and there's a new apartment block in the background.

Saturday 19 December 2020

Week 51 - One Daily Positive

I'm on my own this week, Peter is in Saudi. It's really strange not having the cat and dog here, really wish we hadn't moved them to the UK earlier this year, but we had no idea covid would strike, separating Peter and I for 8 months this year.

I've a list of things on my mind at the moment that are irritating me. I did have car hire issues dating back to December 2019 where I'd been over charged £97. Emails, calls and tweets were being ignored and at one point they investigated, found me to be wrong and closed the file. Anyway i got my £97 back. Seriously hoping I get the £500 owed to me by the shipping company, who I've now threatened with legal action.

Insomnia - I'm waking around 3.30am nearly every morning.

Swimming pool - The pool opposite only offer min 6 monthly memberships. Whenever I've used the pool it's been empty over the past 3 years, yet they won't allow monthly or pay as you go access unless you are a guest of a member.

Food - I'm eating too much crap.

Shipping container - Still no refund on the insurance the agents failed to take out on our behalf and no one is answering any calls/emails in regards to who is at fault for the delay.

Sleep - Not getting any.

Covid - Apart from mask wearing, you'd not know covid was here in Dubai, I'm spending as much time as possible outdoors, schools have broken up and tourists are arriving back and it's so busy. Not Dubai busy, much quieter than normal, but not as quiet as August/September. Social distancing can be difficult and although hand sanitisers are available outside every shop, they're not being used every time people pass them. I've not met anyone in the UK who has been diagnosed with covid, but have met at least 10 people here in Dubai who have had a positive PCR test since April.

Social distancing - In general people aren't, so I'm avoiding the busy times and preferring to go out in the mornings before it gets too busy.

348 Sunday Last day of the golf, the player I walked round with was out on the clock for slow play, which meant I ended up running 7 holes carrying all the equipment. The European Tour Producer came out to thank us personally for working with them over the week, there were 8 of us doing the job and all volunteers. The sound we provide is used for the Golf Channel and Sky Sports. 

This little fella scared me half to death in the garden.

349 Monday I dropped Peter at the Airport, he's off to Saudi for a week. I stopped at the nail bar on the way home for a pedicure to sort out the hard skin on my feet after 2 weeks of wearing trainers at the golf.

McDonalds on my way home, which I ate in the garden after swopping the roll for a gluten free one.

350 Tuesday Spent the day at Dubai Mall with a friend. The evening was spent in front of the TV.

The worlds largest Christmas decoration inside the worlds largest mall. The nutcrackers are two storeys high.

351 Wednesday Did some gardening, washing and cleaning. Watched the UK soaps via youtube. Went to the Dr's in the afternoon and then to Mall of the Emirates and to the pub quiz in the evening. Went to bed at midnight, slept till 4am.

My favoutire Christmas tree in Dubai, although this is the 4th year it's been displayed.

352 Thursday Back to Mall of the Emirates to exchange some clothes, met a friend for coffee and home by midday, did the washing, some blogging, had a tidy round. An afternoon nap, then popped to Peter's colleagues apartment to collect their spare key so we can water their plants while they're away for a few weeks. Spent the evening in front of the TV.

No idea what this will turn in to.

353 Friday Headed off to the Marina in the morning for Breakfast and a walk. I did nothing in the afternoon and I spent the evening watching Love Actually and Notting Hill on Netflix. I also did some washing and ironing.

Our 10th Christmas in the sun, something I'll never really get used to.

354 Saturday Swept sand out the house and mopped, took a walk round the neighbourhood in the afternoon and took more photos of the construction work that is going on here. Spent a lot of the day in the garden.

On the blog this week:

Working on the European Golf Tour during Covid - The Race to Dubai.

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Sunday 13 December 2020

Working on the European Golf Tour for the Race to Dubai, during Covid.

I've been volunteering with the Golf in the UAE for 3 years now and have had some amazing opportunities from working with the anti drug testing, marshalling, as a spotter and working with the TV Production team with scoring and recording sound, which you can read about here.

However it's all been very different during covid, no crowds, just minimal hospitality, coaches, a few partners of the golfers and caddies plus agents and sponsors around the course, meaning it's been quieter than usual and with few distractions, I'm really getting to enjoy the experience a bit more.

An empty Village, normally full of food vendors, tv screens and bean bags.

Usually this space is open for viewing the 1st tee from the stands which aren't here this year.

There are two bubbles, one for the golfers, caddies, European Tour Team and everyone who has flown in for the event, which is called the inner bubble are all staying in the Atlantis Hotel. Us volunteers, who live locally are in the outer bubble. We have separate toilets on the course to use and restricted access to certain areas, our lanyard colours give indication as to who is inner and outer bubbles. We're also temperature checked every morning and have daily online forms to fill in, we can't travel on the golf carts and have a separate bus between the TV compound and the course.

The Race to Dubai has the World's top golfers playing for a share of $8,000,000 and is part of the Rolex Series. I'm walking round with the top players with a live TV crew recording the sound of the caddies speaking to the golfers, up close and personal on the tee's, fairway and edge of the greens. It's hard work, the kit weighs around 3kg with the battery packs, I have an ear piece to get instructions and to be able to radio back in for a ref etc, head phones so I can hear what sound I'm picking up, then add a mask, back pack with food and drink, sunglasses and a hat and I'm my own game of buckaroo or if you're older, I could try balancing a cabbage for my own episode of Crackerjack.

For the regular readers of my blog posts I know a lot of you don't follow the golf, so have no idea who I'm talking about, well I don't play golf either and I rarely follow it the rest of the year due to lack of access to the golf channels here in Dubai and the UK, but I'm learning fast. the rules, the players and even matching up family members and caddies now to the players.

A list for the day helps.

I know who plays the greens slowly and who takes their time with the tee shots. I know which players get a little upset when they hit a bad shot and those who like to have a laugh with their team mates when they're walking down the fairways. But it's a serious game, with a lot of money at stake.

There is little interaction from the players towards us, minimal conversation from them and barely a thank you at the end of 18 holes. I'm not sure many of them are aware most of us are volunteers though.

Recording sound is great fun, you get to walk right up close and personal with the players, it's rare to be within 2 meters of them anyway as you have to keep out the way of the cameras and quite often there can be 3-4 per hole. Trying to find your position to record the sound on the green, away from the cameras, out of the sight line of the golfers without walking on the green is tricky and I'm often having to sprint ahead to get into position, then they over hit and you have to just stay completely still and watch your shadows at the end of the day.

The worse thing that can actually happen is for a golfer or a caddy to ask you to move as you know you've got it wrong, thankfully that hasn't happened to me yet.

Some of the golfers and caddies don't actually realise how much you can hear with the mic. Quite often I'll laugh out loud and they'll ask 'did she hear that?' 'Yes I did'. I've heard some great stories as I've walked alongside, behind and even in front if the wind is blowing in the right direction. The sound is fed back to the studio, I point at their faces when they're lining up for a shot, the ground when they hit the ball, then the crowd for the applause.

I also pick up comments, personal stories, breaking wind and sometimes comments aimed at me in an attempt to knock me off balance and make me blush. (I'm the mother of 4 adult males, they must try harder) Some will deliberately swear so they know the sound won't be used and try to encourage me to walk with the other golfer. 

I won't be repeating the stories on here or social media, no one has ever told me I can't but ethically I know it would be wrong.

Saturday 12 December 2020

Week 50 - One Daily Positive. The Race to Dubai with The European Tour

Our tree went up on Saturday, half the decorations are in boxes in the UK and I figure you can never have too much at Christmas anyway so I bought a new tree topper and another set of lights. I'm seeing many of my friends are having issues with which family they see over Christmas. For the past 10 years since we've been abroad, family haven't included us in their plans anyway and prior to that the kids would always go to their other parents for Christmas Eve and return Boxing Day night. However our kids are grown up now, with partners, married and child of their own, living close to their in laws, so even without covid on the scene, I don't think much will change for us. 

We're looking at booking a hotel stay for the Christmas period, usually we go out for a brunch, but a few nights away will do us both some good and we'll unwrap presents when we get back for the New Year.

341 Sunday I spent the day at home, I finished decorating the tree and tidied up and hoovered all the glitter and stray bits of tinsel.

342 Monday Off to the Drs for my pneumonia jab, meds and a blood test, then onto the hair dressers and nail bar.

343 Tuesday Festival City Mall in the morning to do some shopping, sent emails to all involved in regards to the shipping but everyone passing the buck and blaming each other, I collected accreditation ready for the golf on Thursday and in the evening we went to Global Village for dinner. It's all outside, but we left at 7.30pm as it was getting too busy for us.

344 Wednesday I spent the day at home, getting no where with the shipping. I swept and mopped the patio and garden and in the evening we went to the Polo club for quiz night and dinner, which we won (again) We were outside all evening, this is the beauty of Dubai at this time of the year.

345 Thursday First day of the golf and with the TV again. The Race to Dubai has the World's top golfers playing for a share of $8,000,000 and is part of the Rolex Series. I'm walking round with the top players with a live TV crew recording the sound of the caddies speaking to the golfers, up close and personal on the tee's, fairway and edge of the greens. It's hard work, the kit weighs around 3kg with the battery packs, I have an ear piece to get instructions and to be able to radio back in for a ref etc, head phones so I can hear what sound I'm picking up, then add a mask, back pack with food and drink, sunglasses and a hat and I'm my own game of buckaroo or if you're older, I could try balancing a cabbage for my own episode of Crackerjack. Today I walked round with Victor Perez and Christian Bezuidenhout.

346 Friday Golf again and out with Tyrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood, ranked 10th and 15th in the world. I caught too much sun and had a headache, we spent the evening watching the Queen's Gambit, it's really good.

347 Saturday Golf and out with Lee Westwood and Branden Grace, evening spent in front of the TV. Last day of the golf tomorrow. 

On the blog this week:

I think TV shows should be doing more to represent the current situation with Covid, some soaps aren't even referencing it. What's your thoughts on it?

Construction Photography - The pods are on the World's Tallest Ferris Wheel in Dubai

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Friday 11 December 2020

11th - 13th December 2020 - Post Comment Love

Welcome back to the final #PoCoLo of the year with Stephanie and I. We're taking a break over winter and will be back with you on January 8th 2021. We'll send out reminders so you don't miss us.

What a year it's been for everyone in so many ways. As an expat things haven't been too different for me, I've still travelled between the UK and Dubai, but not as frequently. I've missed seeing family even when I've been in the UK, although I have appreciated the garden visits. I've spent more than half the year separated from my husband.

The isolating has given me the time to get all the work done on the house to return it to a decent condition after 9 years of tenants and to get the garden sorted. It's not finished, but it's ready now to be sold, if we choose to move or a nice clean base now to work from to make it our home again.

I'm not getting anywhere with holding anyone responsible for our delay with the container and additional costs incurred since my return to Dubai. The UK made it clear my contract was with the company in Dubai, they've made it clear it's the fault of the shipping company who have said it's the fault of both the Dubai and UK companies. The Dubai company do owe me £500 from their failure to obtain insurance in time and are blaming covid for their inability to make an online payment since the middle of October, when I've managed to make numerous payments online to accounts in and from the UK, in and from Dubai and a recent gift into my sons account in Australia. I hate being fobbed off and treated as if I'm stupid.

Anyway, I will get closure on this one way or another, but for now....

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and look forward to seeing you back in the New Year.

Suzanne x

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Wednesday 9 December 2020

Do you think TV shows could do more to represent the current pandemic?

I can't watch ITV in the mornings. Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid, Philip and Holly and Loose Women. I can't stand the shouting, the over talking and the scientific facts presented with little or no research.

However ITV are doing very well with their programs in the evenings.

Whether you're a fan of soaps or not, in my opinion the writers of Coronation Street are doing an excellent job of reflecting the current crisis during the Covid pandemic. I know some of their stuff is out of date, which will be due to how far ahead they are filming, but their mask wearing, hand sanitising, social distancing and references to missing cast members whose characters are shielding, is excellent even if some of their plot lines are a bit far fetched.

I don't watch Emmerdale, but i did watch a couple of episodes when they resumed filming and at the time they were representing the current pandemic also, dealing with isolation.

Eastenders seems to be lacking quite a bit in reflecting the pandemic, there are references to Covid, but often in a manner that indicates the writers and characters are inconvenienced by the whole thing, which may represent how a lot of the population are feeling, but there's not a mask in sight and I read an interview with Danny Dyer where he said the camera crew were using clever filming techniques and perspex screens to make it appear the characters are closer than they really are, therefore not even indicating any social distancing is going on.

If you watch Neighbours you wouldn't even know the pandemic included Australia, no mention of covid, no social distancing indoors or out and bringing in the actors partners for any kissing scenes.

Whilst covid safety measures are being put in place for filming, I feel it could be represented more a bit on TV. I know camera angles can be deceiving, and I appreciate wearing a mask when acting doesn't make for good TV viewing but it does help when cast members of Coronation Street walk into a scene wearing a mask, I feel it's more representative of the Pandemic, although I  realise that soaps often aren't representative of a lot of society, people watch and people imitate.

Sunday 6 December 2020

Ain Dubai - World's Tallest Ferris Wheel, set to open soon

I've been documenting the construction of Bluewaters Island and Ain Dubai since my first visit to Dubai in January 2014, before we moved here the end of the same year.

I've been regularly updating posts and in September 2020 on my last trip here they had started to put the pods/capsules on The World's Tallest Ferris Wheel .

It is expected to open in December 2020, a couple of months late due to the postponement of Expo 2020 due to Covid.

The pods are now on, since my last visit here 2 months ago. I'm undecided if I'll be going on it or not. I don't mind heights, but I don't like small spaces and the inability to leave when I choose.

December 2020

September 2020

January 2019

May 2017

January 2016

Saturday 5 December 2020

Week 49 - One Daily Positive. Back in Dubai and the Golf

Back in Dubai early hours of Tuesday morning, it's been a long week and all happened very fast, considering last Friday at 4.50pm I'd given up on my container ever being delivered. I will be sorting the issues out with the company here in Dubai, but I'm not hopeful anything will be achieved as everyone was passing responsibility back and forth. I'm really pleased I got back in time to work on the European Golf Tour, it won't be long before I resume working back in the UK and I really need to have some more areas of interest on a CV that has been fairly empty for the past 10 years.

334 Sunday Not a word from the moving company till 1pm 'we're on our way' from Greenwich. They arrived at 7pm, it took 2 hours to unload. The sofa that came out the house almost 10 years ago to the date, is now in the neighbours garage, because it won't go back in, they unwrapped the oven smaller sofa, fridge freezer and that was it. I'd paid for a full unpack and removal of waste on same day. But if I wanted my container now, that was the deal. Another complaint to add to my list.

335 Monday Up early, said good bye to the cat and dog. House sitters were still sleeping when I left. Caught the train into Paddington, which was so quiet, I could've cried. It's only when I travel that the enormity of covid really hits home, that and the 'Clap for Keyworkers' I'd booked the evening flight as I was unsure I could get to Heathrow for the earlier one, but I had plenty of time and transferred to the earlier flight. No fees payable to rebook during covid. I had a row to myself, an uneventful flight, got some sleep and had no anxiety at all.

An empty Paddington Station.

336 Tuesday On arrival had a PCR test and now playing the waiting game for results. Peter had his within 8 hours when he returned from Saudi the other week. I arrived during a busy time for transit passengers and it's a public holiday so I had to wait longer. Most of the day spent in bed, only had 4 hours sleep during the night, body clock in regards to meal times is confused. While I was having breakfast, Peter was already at lunch time and asking me what I wanted for dinner. I unpacked and got ready for the golf tomorrow.

View from the bedroom window.

337 Wednesday 1st day at the golf. I was assigned a spotters role, basically counting the number of shots made by a golfer on each hole and radioing the scores back into the TV studios to provide information for their live commentary. I was bitten whilst hiding from the TV cameras in the rough (long grass) and got sunburnt. Came home, showered and off to the Polo Club for dinner and pub quiz with friends, which we won.

338 Thursday More golf and another long day outside in the sun, The TV compound is off site so we found ourselves sitting by the driving range for an hour whilst there was a break in live TV, it was nice to have a rest. Some of the golfers, but mainly the caddies start to recognise us now.

We went to a small baby shower and BBQ for the evening

339 Friday Golf again, just one round of 18 holes walked today, TV finished at 3pm, so home early. We went for a walk along the beach, had dinner and an early night.

The pods are finally on the wheel.

340 Saturday Up early again, did some blogging and headed off to the final day of the golf for this week. I've been walking an average of 8 to 10 miles a day in a circle, round 18 holes of golf, I know the course like the back of my hand now. The afternoon was spent putting up the Christmas Tree and decorations.

More golf next week with the finale of The Race to Dubai where a prize fund of $8 million. This weeks Golf in Dubai Championship was a mere $2.3 million.

On the Blog this week:

The role of a scorer at the golf.

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