Saturday 30 January 2021

2021 Week 4 - Back in the UK and fully vaccinated

I flew back in to the UK on Tuesday. The flight and arrival in Birmingham went really well, there was an incident in the lift at New Street where I stood my ground and refused to allow the lift doors to close until a couple got out as they were either unable to read or process why I wouldn't let them in until I told them to fuck off, firmly. It was lovely seeing the snow on the ground. I'll be able to leave the house on February 6th. Technically I can now as I have an exemption letter, which I may use to walk Bob in the early hours of the morning, but I've no real desire to go anywhere. 

I'm grateful I have the room to move boxes around and decide what I want to unpack and in which order. I've placed an Ikea order for some display cabinets and started my quest for another house sitter for March. I've also ordered another food delivery for next week and once I'm out of quarantine I'll use the click and collect service.

23 Saturday Child 4's birthday, he turned 26. WTAH? I can't be old enough for this? The cut was made at the golf today and I went out with the penultimate group, a couple of players had a bad round and yes, I knew about it. Only walked 17.500 steps today as opposed to almost 30,000 on Thursday. Had a bath, down to the bar for a drink then had room service dinner. I packed ready for check out in the morning.

The club house at Abu Dhabi.

24 Sunday Last day of the golf, I have a lovely 'golfers' tan. White feet, V neck shirt and short sleeves. Started the day with a PCR test to comply with the rules in the UAE for this event and ready for my flight on Tuesday.

Winner Tyrell Hatton and Caddy with 3rd placed Rory McIlroy. There was a pot of $8 million up for grabs.

25 Monday 2nd covid vaccination today, took around 2 hours. Rest of the day spent tidying and packing and just chilling out. When Peter finished work we popped to the local mall for dinner and had an early night.

26 Tuesday Up and out the house by 4am. The airport and flight was good, arrival in Birmingham was excellent with all the communication, checks and social distancing, caught a train home, had a minor confrontation with a couple until they got out of the lift. Met the house sitters on the drive at 3pm, they left straight away. Cat and dog were pleased to see me, house looks ok. In bed at 6pm.

My travel clothing.

27 Wednesday Woke at 3am, cleaned the kitchen cupboards, surfaces and walls/doors. The downstairs loo and hallway. I unpacked my suitcase, sorted out some bills, made a list of jobs that need doing. The food shop arrived and I unpacked a small chest of drawers so I could put a few things away. In the evening I just chilled out in the evening on the sofa in front of the TV.

I keep forgetting I'm owned by a cat and it just keeps appearing without warning.

28 Thursday Another early morning, drank tea, did some blogging and forced myself to stay in bed till 6am, then showered and got properly dressed for the day. Spent the day unpacking boxes, moving things, discovering broken items, cussing, sleeping, eating and repeat. 

Every box is labelled, glass or books and either kitchen or living room, nothing makes sense and stuff from the shed has ended up in the same box as stuff from the spare bedroom upstairs.

29 Friday A similar day to yesterday and progress is being made. Had a phone call from Public Health England, very friendly bubbly voice telling me to isolate and what to do if I have any symptoms. Would be more effective if they just said 'stay in or get fined'. 

These books were my dad's from his childhood, they were upside down in a box in the shed marked steel. Hopefully I've rescued them from the damp in time.

On the blog this week:

Further developments in Uptown Dubai and the Super Tall Tower with #MySundayPhoto

#PoCoLo Post Comment Love - a weekly linky I co host

My Winter COVID Vacation in Dubai

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Friday 29 January 2021

29th-31st January 2021 - Post Comment Love

Welcome back to this weeks #PoCoLo with Stephanie and I. You'll notice a change this week as I'm back in the UK. I've had two great months in Dubai with my husband, apart from a few blips with Covid. I have a job to do over here and that's to continue my role as a home maker, preparing for when Peter retires and building the next chapter in our lives together, which will see me return to the world of work.

No idea what I'll be doing work wise. I've been involved in a few charities in South Africa since we moved there 10 years ago this month, but sadly due to covid I've not been able to get hands on this year. I taught for a year in an Arabic school for 14 months over in Dubai in 2015/2016 and the past 3 years I've been working with the European Golf Tour.

The golf finished on Sunday, I had a PCR test before leaving the site, ready to return to the UK. Had the 2nd dose of my Covid Vaccine on Monday, packed my case and flew into Birmingham on the Tuesday. Said Hello and Goodbye to my house sitters, greeted the cat and dog and did nothing for the rest of the day. I had a food shop delivered on Wednesday and whilst I am exempt from isolating, I have chosen not to leave the house other than to walk the dog for the next 10 days which will be early in the morning to avoid contact with people.

I'm actually more concerned about coming to the UK and catching Covid than I am about people coming here and spreading it. I need to read up a bit more about the rules and when this lockdown finishes and focus on finding another house and pet sitter so I can get back to Dubai as soon as and for as long as possible.

I've linked up with my Winter holiday in Dubai and you'll see how much more freedom I've had over here due to the lower numbers in the population and the tight laws. I've had 2 hotel stays, 2 hospital stays and 1 surgery, had my hair cut twice, nails done 3 times, eaten out, worked with large sporting events. Been required to have 6 PCR tests, all negative and enjoyed time with friends. I cannot reiterate how much Face, Hands and Space makes a difference.

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My Winter COVID Vacation in Dubai

Yes, I left the UK during lockdown to go to Dubai for 2 months over winter. I'm not an influencer and certainly wasn't getting free accommodation in exchange for a few Instagram posts, but I did have a couple of hotel stays in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but there was little beach and pool time as it's too cold at the moment. Ok it's still 25c, but when you're used to temps in the 40's in the summer, the sea does feel quite chilly.

Dubai's covid rules are different to the UK and change as the virus changes. At the moment no more than 4 in a coffee shop, 7 in a restaurant to sit together and tables 3ms apart. No indoor groups, but gyms and hairdressers are open. Malls and shops operating as normal, whilst Covid compliance officers are checking on numbers of shoppers, working practices, use of masks and hand sanitisers there's no one counting you in and out and taking your temperature any more.

Life in Dubai is very different to the UK, FULL STOP. I've family and friends around the world, locals and expats like us. Apart from a few countries with completely different demographics, Covid is behaving the same around the world. The number of deaths and cases differ depending on how or if they are reported. The UK is different because it's made up of different people, attitudes, entitlement (yes really). We don't choose to eat out often in the UK or go to the cinema or even visit nail bars and hairdressers. We spend our time in the UK with family, out door activities and with friends and as expats even though I'm back in the UK, I can't do any of that anyway, so it was nice to be able to have the option to be elsewhere.

I was in Dubai because I have a visa to live there with my husband for the past 6 years, however I've been spending more and more time in the UK over recent years and with us reclaiming our family home and relocating the cat and dog to the UK and covid hitting in March 2020 I've only spent 18 weeks there in the past 12 months. Only 14 weeks actually with my husband as he was away for one week with work then he managed to get shut in Saudi for an extra week when they closed their borders over night, I spent time in hospital with a slipped disc, had surgery and had then time in Abu Dhabi working on the golf.

I've received quite a bit of indirect criticism about being out in Dubai, but it's been my home for the last 6 years and my husband still lives and works there. I certainly wouldn't be contemplating travelling for a holiday, I'm more than happy to travel between the UK and Dubai as I have a home in both countries and can afford to isolate and pay for a hotel stay for quarantine purposes. 

There have been brunches, coffees with friends, cinema trips, using public transport, pub quizzes, walks on the beach as well as:

8 x PCR tests

2 x hospital stays

2 x hotel stays

2 x working at major sporting events

Early March 2020 schools closed, by mid March Emirates stopped flying and the end of March, Dubai closed its borders. Curfews in place and permits required to leave home.

June and residents and citizens were allowed to fly back in. My husband wasn't allowed to fly as he was over 60. Under 12's also weren't allowed, as well as no access to malls. 

July tourists allowed back in. Permission to travel from both UK and UAE required.

August and Peter was allowed to fly. 2 weeks isolation in the UK, then a PCR test required to fly back to Dubai. Same for me for my trip in September and 2 weeks isolation back in the UK.

October and citizens PCR on arrival, tourists PCR prior to travel and on arrival also. Isolate until results arrive.

Abu Dhabi has different rules which still require anyone entering to wear a tracking device while they are isolating for 10 days. A PCR test is required for residents of the UAE to cross the border also.

Saturday 23 January 2021

Week 3 2021 One Daily Positive - The European Tour Bubble

The beginning of the week was medical appointments, followed by 4 nights in Abu Dhabi for the HSBC Championship Golf with the European Tour. I'm staying in Abu Dhabi only 45 minutes down the road as I have to move into the official bubble to comply with the Tour rules. So many rules to follow, but happy to do so. Not allowed out of the hotel other than to and from the golf course, all meals to be eaten outdoors or in your room and no socialising with more than one other but outdoors and at a distance of 2 meters. Exercise of 1 hour a day is permitted, but no access to the hotel pool, however I will be spending the 4 days walking around the golf course, so won't need my hour.

16 Saturday We ventured out on a 6 mile beach walk, ending up in KFC for lunch, then home to bed for me for the afternoon as my back was killing me. I didn't venture onto the rocks.

17 Sunday Follow up appointment after last weeks surgery, all good. Then a trip to the nail bar and hairdressers. In the late afternoon we went for a walk around the Marina.

Flamingoes at City Walk.

18 Monday Dropped Peter at work then off for a PCR test ready for the golf, collected Peter after lunch. Afternoon spent resting my back, then evening out at Bluewaters for dinner and to see the light show.

19 Tuesday Follow up appointment with the Doctor about my back. He decided to focus on my neck injury from 25 years ago saying that unless that is sorted I will continue to have a bad lower back due to poor posture. Yes, yes, I know this and NO I don't want more tests, they've been done many times, every Doctor offers to cure me, giving me false hope then at the end tells me the nerves are damaged and can't be repaired and once I learn to accept the chronic pain things will improve. Duh! I just need some physio and short term meds every now and then to get me back on track please. 

20 Wednesday Off to Abu Dhabi, PCR test at Golf club then checked into hotel. I have a 1 bed apartment for the week, very luxurious and not a bad place to be isolating for the next 12 hours. Ordered room service, will be able to eat outside on the terrace the rest of the week.

21 Thursday Early morning start due to the US TV audience at 5am, however it was foggy and the golf was delayed for 3 hours. I walked round the course twice almost 30,000 steps with the last golfers having to finish half way round due to poor light. Back to hotel around 6 .30pm, I had dinner, a bath and was in bed by 9pm.

Current Leader Tyrell Hatton -12 Par

22 Friday A lie in, breakfast and off to the course for 10am, another PCR test. One and half times round the course, 24,000 steps, back to the hotel at 6.30pm and after dinner and a bath, I was asleep by 8pm.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque, viewed from Breakfast terrace.

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo - The view from above of Dubai Water Canal.

I'm fed up of not knowing what I don't know until I don't know I need to know it.

Post Comment Love - a weekly linky.

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Friday 22 January 2021

22nd-24th January 2021 - Post Comment Love

Welcome back to this weeks #PoCoLo with Stephanie and I. Hope you've all had a good week and are settling into the new year. 

I've had a good week with hair dressers, nail bar, coffee, friends and precious time with Peter as I return to the UK next week and have no idea when I'll see him again. I am however in Abu Dhabi less than an hour from home, but staying in a hotel on my own as I'm in a bubble with the European Tour Production Team working on the sound with the HSBC Championship Golf.

It's definitely been different for the past few months. Everything has been different for a while, for everyone, worldwide. 

One of the biggest things I see people struggling with is the constant change and upheaval, last minute decisions and not understanding why and how to implement new rules and ways of life.

As expats for the past 10 years this has been a very common feeling for us, the unknown and the not knowing. The last minute changes and/or restrictions put upon us by others with no notice, explanation or support. 

I've linked up this week with 'How do I know what I don't know?' and the frustrations of navigating our life in 2 countries.

My biggest problem is switching between different cultures, laws and ways of doing things, but doing the same thing just in different countries. My latest issue is dealing with the medical aid company, it operates differently depending on the hospital, type of procedure and even down to how the medical specialist prefers payment. I know how to try and navigate how all this will work in the UK to continue treatment without adding to the stress on the NHS, whilst appreciating that most Private medical professionals in the UK work for the NHS also. I need regular blood tests and iron infusions. 

I need to remember how things work in the UK, the laws on shopping, going out, visiting others, bubbles, mask wearing (full time for me in and out) take out coffees, can I sit in the park to drink it or must I keep moving, can I sit in someones garden or talk over the garden fence.

How are you finding things here in the UK? Have you been abroad during covid? Do you have family living abroad and know how things are working for them? 

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Wednesday 20 January 2021

How do you know what you don't know?

The answer is, you don't. That's why you hire professionals to do things for you. You ask others to help you and you do your research.

Life has been a lot more complicated for people recently around the world, dealing with Covid-19 and restrictions with new ways of doing things have to be found. There will inevitably be delays and last minute changes of plan, additional expenses and a lot of inconvenience. Then just when you think it's all settled and there is now an established way of doing things, it all changes again.

However, more often than not, you end up finding out things you don't know about that you need to know. I find the best way of dealing with things is to say at the beginning that I have no idea how anything works, what you want from me and in what order you want it done, so please start at the beginning and explain it to me. There always seems to be an assumption you've a) done this before and b) if you have done it before it will have been done the same way.

Here's a list of things I didn't know I had to know over recent months.

I didn't know that I'm supposed to know that:

I have to be at a hospital 2 hours prior to appointment time.

Not all medical appointments are direct billing and even if you ask if it's pay and claim or direct billing, you need to know that what you're told over the phone will differ from what actually happens on the day.

If you want to close a bank account and to actually have the account closed that you need to know that you have to ask for a clearance certificate or your bank account just remains open with a zero balance.

To ensure a smooth and swift delivery of your personal belongings via a shipping line that you need to know to ask the company you have the contract with to ask for the Bill of Lading from the Shipping company then know that although they've asked, they may not have received it and you have to know this, then you have to know that even when they give it to the shipping company that you need to know the person to contact in the UK to ask them to ensure they notify them, then you need to know they won't automatically inform your UK agent to arrange collection of your furniture for delivery to you. You also need to know that no one actually cares or accepts responsibility.

Estate agents won't date photos, evidencing damage, automatically before submitting them to the Deposit Protection Scheme, but you don't know you need to ask them to do that until after the claim has been refused, due to insufficient evidence that those photos were taken during the tenancy and not years earlier or later.

I automatically know I have to collect a ticket once I've decided what category my question/complaint fits into, then know which part of the building to go to for the corresponding ticket window.

I know that I have to do things in a certain order and ask my questions in the correct order or I'll have to take a new ticket and queue all over again.

I know where each department is and fully understand the orders barked at me to follow without being given time to process and to think about what else I don't know, that I may need to know before leaving the department and navigating my way to another building armed only with a ticket number.

Things that I do know though.

People will lie. Say things to get your business.

People and companies will fail to take ownership of their mistakes and will stop replying to emails, ignore your calls and eventually block your number.

People and companies will make things as difficult as possible for you to get refunds/monies owed in the hope you'll just go away.

People who don't know that they need to know, don't tend to understand your situation.

Sunday 17 January 2021

The view from above. Dubai Water Canal.

The Dubai Water Canal viewed from the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road.
The Arrows indicate where the two photos were taken from this weekend.

The photos of the canal in Spot the Difference were taken from the point next to the long strip of greenery in the top photo showing the before and after of the construction of Tolerance Bridge. You should be able to see Tolerance Bridge in both these pictures if you look hard enough.

Saturday 16 January 2021

2021 Week 2 -Time for surgery

I cancelled surgery before the new year as Peter wasn't able to get back to Dubai from Saudi, we managed a whole week together then disaster hit last week with me spending 3 days in hospital with a slipped disc.

This week was the surgery went ahead, all good, hopefully getting on top of my iron deficiency anaemia through this route. Just the high white blood cell count, that's crept up again to deal with and I should be good to go for the next 50 years. I had a sore throat after being intubated during an hours surgery, how people who have been ventilated for days/weeks/months are coping I do not know, their recovery from covid must be horrendous.

I'm getting fed up with people commentating about the virus in Dubai, it's not Dubai I'm worried about catching it in. I was planning to isolate on my return to the UK anyway and have a food order delivery arranged for the day after I get back. Plus I'm required to take a PCR test before I can fly anyway.

Most people visiting Dubai are staying with family and friends or are being sponsored for long stays with work, regardless of whether people consider Influencing an actual job. Whilst their posting picture of their *hashtag Insta, glam, style etc I'm posting pictures of the ironing I've done that day.

Due to strict restrictions and the rules being enforced by law here in the UAE, that apart from wearing a mask other than when you've seated at a table, everything is pretty much back to normal. I've been in hospital, had surgery, been to a major sporting event (another is booked next week) been out for dinner, done the weekly food shop, the nail bar, hair cut, stayed in hotels, been on the beach, used public transport, got my covid vaccine and 2nd jab due next week and had 3 negative PCR tests. 

9 Saturday Still on bed rest for my back, where I spent the morning, then off to the hospital for surgery a couple of biopsies in an attempt to get to the bottom of my iron levels. Went well and home by 8pm, couldn't sleep and throat was as sore as anything after being intubated for an hour. Can't begin to imagine what it is like for people who have been ventilated for days, weeks and months with covid.

View from my hospital window

10 Sunday Up and about today and went out with Peter for a coffee. Feel incredibly nauseous and light headed though so back on the bed for the rest of the day, propped up on pillows sorting out banking and other issues.

View from my bedroom balcony at home

11 Monday Over did it today with 2 loads of washing and a short walk to the local shops for milk, so back in bed for the rest of the day.

Daytime view

12 Tuesday Peter dropped me at Mall of the Emirates so I could do some shopping. I managed a coffee then came home on the new metro route which opened last week. I'm alright walking and standing up, it's sitting down I struggle with. Home and into bed for the rest of the day.

New entrance at Mall fo the Emirates

13 Wednesday It took me all day to do the ironing, the first chore I've attempted since I hurt my back 10 days ago. We went out for dinner at the Polo Club and won the pub quiz.

14 Thursday I had an invite to meet a small group of women at Dubai Marina for coffee, had a lovely time and it had me reflecting on the fact it's been 10 years now since we started our expat journey. The rest of the day was spent in bed and the evening on the sofa.

Struggling to find Gluten Free products in the supermarket

15 Friday We went out for Brunch, slightly different as we're not allowed to select our own buffet food, it's now on a menu, so restricted options but still just as lovely. It saved me getting up and down and hurting my back. I finished the medication 2 days ago so a few drinks were in order and home to sleep the after effects off.

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo - The New Metro Line opens

Post Comment Love - A weekly linky I co-host

Reflections on 10 years an expat

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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Friday 15 January 2021

15-17th January 2021 - Post Comment Love

Welcome back to #PoCoLo with Stephanie and I. I really enjoyed catching up with most of you from last week finding out how your Christmas and New Year had gone.

I feel like a medical tourist at the moment. I've been PCR'd within an inch of my life, been jabbed and stabbed with vitamins, blood extracted at an alarming rate and had both pneumonia and covid vaccinations, shoved into a MRI, had a biopsy and the mirena coil fitted, in an attempt to stop my periods due to my ever decreasing Ferritin stores causing Iron Deficiency Anaemia. 

Next week sees the second dose of the Covid Vaccine and 2 PCR tests. The 1st to enter Abu Dhabi and the 2nd on arrival at the Golf Course where I'm working with the European Production Tour at the HSBC Challenge and staying in a local hotel from the 20th-24th January.

We'd love to hear about what you've been up to this week and any plans for the coming future.

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Thursday 14 January 2021

Reflections on 10 years an expat

Facebook memories over winter revolve around moving. Either the chance of a move, visa applications or a physical house move, followed by trying to sort everything out on a tight timescale, budget and stress.

10 years ago this week we submitted our final visa application to move to South Africa. These things take months to do and every time you submit the application someone adds yet another piece of paperwork to the pile that needs to be filled in. The final piece of paperwork for our first move after numerous medical reports was a signed form from our GP stating we were of sound mind.

4 years later we had to return to the UK to submit papers for our move to Dubai

10 years on I question how sound our minds were at the time and over subsequent years as we've moved, home and country.

To be honest whilst our life style sounds complicated to some, it's just normal to me. I don't think I've ever had a normal life. Prior to leaving the UK I'd moved 17 times, with the longest stay in one house of 8 years where Peter and I raised a blended family for 8 years after getting married in 2002.

I crave being in one place, being in charge as much as the next person in regards to choosing when to move and where to move to. Of course we could've chosen not to have become expats, it wasn't a path we were searching for, just making the most of any opportunity that came our way.

The opportunities we've had as a family, especially for our children have been amazing. Although we only brought the 2 younger boys abroad with us, the eldest was already living in Germany with the army for 4 years, but the next child who left home at 18, just 3 months before we left the UK, packed his bags just over 3 years ago and announced his move to Australia as he wanted the same opportunities to live abroad also, like his siblings have had.

There have of course been numerous missed opportunities, difficulties with Education, lost work opportunities for me, missing family events and now not seeing our grandchild grow up. But we've tried to prioritise important events, we've been able to support our children, now all adults, in ways we couldn't have if we'd stayed in the UK.

We've lost family and friends along the way, these events would've happened regardless, we only know the life we have now, not the life we would've or could've had.

It's been difficult despite the sun shine continuously, it's also been a lot of fun, but regardless of location there is still work, washing, ironing, food shopping, cooking to be done.

I like to think we've kept our feet rooted firmly to the ground throughout this journey. We view our eventual move to the UK as another move, not as going back.

I saw the cross crossing woman near our old home in the UK on a visit. She said 'Oh you're back then?' as if we'd been been on some failed mission to Mars. It took a lot of control not to reply with 'You're still here then?'

Everything has to come to and end at some point, but it's not the end for us, it's yet another change, now with a grandchild to enjoy, a child living in Australia we can visit and whilst we've lost family members over the years, we've gained new ones in the form of in laws and it's an exciting chapter we look forward to being part of.

Sunday 10 January 2021

The Dubai Metro Expo 2020 extension. Jebel Ali to Al Furjan.

3 years after I started documenting the construction of the Dubai Metro driverless train, the Expo2020 line opened on January 1st.

The journey between Jebel Ali and Al Furjan takes about six minutes and frequency will be 10 minutes at a rate of six trains per hour, with the route serving 4,176 riders per hour per direction. From Jebel Ali I can change to the main line and access the Marina, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Mall and the Airport within 10-40 minutes, or 5 mins towards Abu Dhabi for Ibn Battuta Mall. I can also access bus routes from the metro stations to the malls, medical centres, beauty salons, supermarkets as well as the beach, tourist attractions, the canal and ferry terminals and Old Dubai, the Creek and the Souks. Pretty much ALL of Dubai.

I prefer travelling by public transport, you see so much more interesting places to just stop off at get a great view of the ever changing city, meet some interesting people and best of all, it costs less than £1 to travel the length of the line in one go.

January 2018

January 2019

January 2020

January 2021

Looking back at where I've been taking my photographs from.

Inside Al Furjan Station