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Monday, November 30, 2020

Picture This

As the end of post a day November finally hoves into view, it would be remiss for me not to provide an update on my favourite (and as she always reminds me, only) daughter V.  

It has been a challenging time over the last year or so for her, mainly due to a nasty accident where she broke her leg (see previous posts). Thankfully she successfully had the pins removed in June (although the timing for a full anaesthetic operation during the lockdown was not great  - almost as poor timing as A’s hospitalisation with a collapsed lung - also thankfully fully recovered the following month). Apart from a couple of small scars where the pins were inserted, her leg has completely healed and so she has been building her confidence  gradually back up although she remains a little anxious among crowds of people  and has been distance-learning since the schools returned in September.

Whilst not ideal,  the distance learning seems to be going OK and her teachers seem to be generally pleased with her progress. She remains a big fan of art and can spend literally hours drawing on the art app on her I-pad - she has also set up her own “virtual”  business where she accepts commissions to create /draw avatars in return for virtual currency which can apparently be converted into real currency. 

She is an avid Minecraft fan (as her brother was at the same age - and on the quiet probably still is) and is quite happy to put her head phones on and draw or entertain herself in the corner of the lounge. She also dotes on our cat Minnie who seems to feature very heavily in the numerous pictures that for some reason end up in my IPhone photo library.

Although a couple of her friends have now left Dubai she still has a good friendship group from School - one of whom lives very nearby and another who will shortly be our near neighbour which is good news. She remains tall for her age having overtaken her Mother in height and towering over her friends. Having recovered from her broken leg she has also  returned to her habit of dancing around in a day dream. 

Although she is focusing more on her art at the moment, she is still a keen writer and is currently getting to grips with Frankenstein in her English Lit. Never one to shy away from an argument, she also remains a keen debater although due to Covid, debate ECA is currently not being run much to her chagrin but hopefully it will return soon.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Where the Streets have no name

Having built up a sizeable stock of untaken annual leave I decided to take today and tomorrow off (which with the three day holiday later in the week would give me a week off). Unfortunately clients intervened but E. and I did manage lunch together today at the Lime Tree cafe in Al Quoz (we need to buy some shares in that chain). 

Al Quoz is a rather unlovely industrial area running parallel to SZR  and due to a mishap with the directions I spent rather longer driving around the warehouses, car showrooms/workshops, and concrete factories (including the former precast works of a client of mine which looks like it could double as a film set)  that gives the area its unique character. 

The network of roads is intersected by alleyways and anonymous cut-throughs which have become the last resting place for a motley assortment of broken down lorries and cars so can be quite a challenge to navigate particularly at going home time.

On first blush it would seem to be a rather unusual location for an upmarket coffee shop/restaurant that prides itself on catering to the needs of what were known as the “Jumeirah Janes” when I first arrived here 10 years ago - essentially the ladies who lunch. However, it is located next to an interesting older building that has a somewhat bohemian air and houses a small theatre (which judging from the adverts in the entrance specialises in comedy stand up/ improv) and some very small art galleries and pop up craft shops. 

Not sure you could really call it old school Dubai but it does have a certain unexpected charm given its location among the gritty urban hinterland of this part of the city and definitely worth a quick look if you are looking for some decent grub and a somewhere a bit different to explore.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Good day Sunshine

A very sporting Saturday as we kicked off with the first of the build up rides for the Dubai Cyclechallenge. A very early start for a Saturday morning but we were rewarded by a fabulous sunrise that greeted us at around 6.30 am on our arrival at the start line in Al Qudra although unfortunately our team leader had what in cycling circles is known as a “mechanical” as he was riding towards the start line involving his wheel coming out of alignment  - very unfortunate as he had a similar problem a few weeks ago so having corralled us to the start line and registered us for the event he was unable to ride (all the hire bikes having been snapped up).

In consequence, I spent rather longer at the front of our group than I would normally expect and I am feeling a little stiff this evening but very pleased with our average speed c.31kmph which will hopefully stand us in good stead for the main race.

For lunch E. and  I headed to the new Waitrose at Motor City where there is a Lime Tree cafe and I indulged in smashed avocado on toast with soft poached eggs - this almost never grows old for me and I really must work out how to make it for myself. 

Tonight was Roast lamb and England beating Wales in the rugby so pretty much a perfect Saturday!

Friday, November 27, 2020

Ride on Time

Tomorrow morning is the first of the Dubai 92 build up rides - rather later this year due to Covid but nonetheless a welcome return to a major event on my sporting calendar. In fact the main race is usually around this time of year and the format has been changed so that you can sign up for all four build up rides and the race itself and you keep the same timing chip and race number all the way through.

As with previous years we are putting together a work team  - and following the recent retirement of a colleague I suspect that I will be the oldest member- so no pressure!

Tomorrow’s ride is 37km at Al Qudra so definitely within my capabilities  - the key is to finish with a decent time as it will be used to grade your starting position - in previous years we have been towards the back so have been battling through the field but the plan is to try to start in one of the higher categories for the race so that means recording some good time in the build up rides so wish us luck,

Holidays in the Sun

 Very short post tonight after a long slog through the week in anticipation of the almost unprecedented three day holiday next week - we are all looking forward to the the three day break. I have blogged before about the extraordinarily long public holidays in Hong Kong so it is nice to have a few days off in the desert! 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Champagne Supernova

Great article in The Guardian (of all places) today regarding the science behind the popularity (amongst some) of drinking champagne with oysters. Apart from being very much associated with high living and fine dining, the combination also conjures up images of slightly louche dinner parties attended by the wealthy and dissolute (or is that just me?) so I guess the combination already has something of an image in popular imagination.

Apparently serving them together creates “umami” - a word that apparently derives from the Japanese for ‘pleasant savoury taste’. I have always been partial to an oyster - I once read that  eating an oyster is like taking a deep breath of sea air when standing on an Atlantic seashore during a storm, and this has a certain resonance for me although I am aware that this is not universally shared - whilst my Mother was a fan, my Father cannot stand them. 

I am also a big  fan of champagne (a love shared with both my parents) and it seems that the “yeast cells in champagne supply the glutamate and the muscles in the oysters add a seasoning of tasty nucleotides” which triggers the umami.

In the interests of research I am therefore inspired to put this Scientific thesis to the test. Dubai is not exactly renowned for its oysters but I have seen them on sale at my local Spinneys and Champagne is also readily available (albeit at eye watering prices) so I shall report back on my findings.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Another Brick in the Wall

It was over 35 years ago that I was going through my list of preferred educational institutions to try to make sure that, of the 5 selected, some of them would actually give me an offer which I was likely to achieve and hopefully one or two of the more august institutions on the list would make me any offer at all even if it was at grades that were likely to be something of a stretch for my academic abilities. 

The received wisdom was that you put the institution that you most wanted to go to (and who were likely to give you an attainable offer) at the top of your UCCA list along perhaps with another university which might make a “Stretch” target offer  in case you out-performed your predictions plus a few colleges who were likely to offer lower grades as an insurance against exam disaster. 

It was quite a balancing act and I seem to recall that I had Nottingham and LSE as joint top with Warwick, Hull and Keele in joint third place - even as a teenager with very little understanding of the world I seem to have lent towards hedging my bets.

Slightly bizarrely I seem to recall applying for slightly different courses depending on the institution involving a combination of History and Politics (and in the case of I think Nottingham and LSE only Politics).

In the event, only LSE decided to forgo the opportunity to have me as a student (their loss obviously) but I ended up in any event in changing my course after the A level results  had been published to Law and Politics which is how I ended up in Nottingham for the next 4 years (and the rest as they say is history).

A. is going through the same process at the moment, and whilst the subject is very different (he is set on doing Computer Science which is very different from his Mother and Fathers skill set), the balancing act of finding an institution and course you like and ensuring you get an attainable offer remains very much the same as it did 35 years ago. 

The playing field has however been affected by Covid - many students will be in the same boat as he is with a big chunk of their last academic year being taught on-line, and many students due to start college this academic year apparently deferring entry until next year (ie when A is due to start) so not sure how many places are actually likely to be available. 

At the moment his Mother and Father’s alma mater is among his favourites along with Exeter, Royal Holloway and UEA but I suspect there will be further anxious thought over the next few days before a final selection is made.