Wednesday, November 30, 2011

7s Buzz

As I stutter towards the end of November safe in the knowlege that I did not even get close to posting a blog per day I have grabbed a spare couple of minutes to focus on the entertainment ahead. In fact the whole of this week has been hectic work and social-wise. Last night we maintained (despite an absence of around a month) our rather dismal run in the Fibber Magee quiz (not quite last but far from even mid-table respectability) although as usual the creative round saw Dad sporting our sloganised tee-shirt (I think he did the same during his last visit although this time we did not have the talents of R to assist in on the design side so our "Rugby 7s T shirt" paled in comparison with the other teams). I also caught up with a former collegue now based out in the Far East which allowed us to get the team together for a drink rather than the usual slogging away at work which was fun. The Main Event however is the 7s which starts tomorrow and National Day which felicitously falls tomorrow as well giving eevryone a day off (although it looks like I am going to have to work at least part of tomorrow and, more troubling, at leat part of Saturday which is also Finals day at the 7s). As a result, I have a fair amount of work and personal life juggling to do as the primary purpose of my Father's visit was to accompany me and the family to the 7s (although I am sure he would happy to attend on his own!!). However, a sop to my likely absence at work over the next few days has presented itself this morning with an offer of two tickets (including Dad) to the corporate hospitality box for one of the days which will at least give me something to offer to him by way of compensation. In any event, the 7s is always fun and I am sure a good time will be had by all even if we are not able to attend for as much of it as we would like.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Catch up

Oh dear. I have certainly failed on the "post a day" stakes so, in a belated and not terribly convincing attempt to justify my tardiness, I thought that I would explain what has kept me from my posting. Work unfortunatley has been particulaly hectic and included an unexpected trip to London for a couple of days. Whilst this gave me an opportunity to cach up with friends and family it also completely exhausted me! It has taken a week to recover and I am still feeling the effects of the jet-lag - mainly the rather unpleasant return flight where the economy cabin smelt as if it was entirely populated by people with personal hygiene issues. In fact (having switched seats, and then switched rapidly back) it seems the problem was in the air-conditioning system rather than my fellow travelers. It meant however that I got precisley no sleep on the way back and have been playing catch up ever since.

The other notable event of the week was the arrival of my Father for a holiday here. This has meant actioning all the plans that we discussed with him in the Summer including going on a fishing trip and a trip to somewhere "exotic". The fishing trip should be doable but the 'somewhere exotic' part is proving more tricky particulaly with the continuing unrest in the region, my lack of availability to travel long haul due to work committments and the approaching winter season. Oman is favourite at the moment.

Also over the last month a number of our friend's and acquaintances have had some very diffiult times. I think I have previoulsy mentioned how our friend's V and R had to go back to UK for an operation. Some other friend's of ours had to leave the Country very quickly due to some fairly unpleasant work issues and, perhaps most distressingly, the husband of a friend of Es was killed in a road accident. The family are now returning home and of course our thoughts are with them. It certainly gives one pause for thought....

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Remember, remember...

Well I did not manage a post a day. However, my excuse is that I was away from internet access during our sojourn in RAK. Unlike the rest of the world, UAE has still not bought into the notion that free wi-fi internet access should be reasonably widely available. Instead there are one or two coffee shops and hotel lobbys where it is available for free in the UAE but mostly you have to pay for it.

During the fireworks weekend we were staying at the Cove Rotana in RAK. It is in a great location perched on a hill overlooking the sea and comprising various rooms and villas forming a little village - with alley ways and greenery. The villas have there own pools and there is a watercourse around the bottom end near the sea. The kids had a great time on the beach, running around like lunatics (to the extent that V. had to have a "quet" day in the room on the Sunday to recover). Rather unexpectedly it started to rain yesterday - putting me in mind of my own holidays in UK where rain was never far away - although at least RAK did not have the frezing wind whipping in off the Atlantic to keep us on our toes! The rain was greeted in today's local papers as a cause for major celebrations and it is certianly the case that we have not seen much rain at all this year (perhaps a light drizzle at the beginning of the year).

On the way back to Dubai we managed a quick look at "Luckys" in Shargar - a little like Horizon Plaza at Ap Lei Chau in HK with warehouses piled high with furniture. E. has had her eye on a couple of pieces ever since visiting with her friend K so was determined to take the opportunity ovef another look. The kids were less enamoured with traipsing around various furntiure warehoueses and had to be bribed ith "Angry Birds" on the Iphone/Ipad.

We had just enough time to stop off for some (welsh) lamb/prawns at Spinneys and by the time we got back home the sun was out again and we were able to have a BBQ to bring the Eid break to a pleasant end.

I am off to London tomorrow on buiness but will try to post beforehand.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Holidays in the Sun

The Eid break will shortly be upon us, and we are off to the beach in RAK - Ras Al Khameih, one the smaller Emirates in the North of UAE. Public holidays in UAE are unfortunately less frequent than in Hong Kong where we could enjoy up to 17 extra days holiday a year - a mixture of the religious (including the historic Christian holidays including Easter left over from the colonial days) and the secular - Establishment Day etc. The UAE mostly has religious holidays - save for the UAE founding day and the public sector (Government offices etc.) will usually have a longer period off than the private sector. The actual "holiday" will also be fixed by the Government so the forthcoming Eid break will start for the private sector on a Saturday and end on the Monday - which for those of us who have Saturday off anyway means the break is a little shorter....

In any event, we are heading for a beach for a few days. It was intended that we would try and go further afield - perhaps back to HK for a few days and then on to Thailand. However work pressures and the fact that my Father is due in Dubai for a three week holiday in mid-November meant that we had to look closer to home. We have stayed in RAk once before and it is a lot quieter than Dubai with nice beaches and a motley collection of duty-free shops and amusment parks. Now that the weather has cooled down, we are all looking forward to it!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A photograph of you

Day 2 of "make a post a day" month and I am still going strong!

When I came down stairs this morning E. had hung one of the professional pictures we had recently had done of the kids, on the wall at the stairs half-landing. It was certainly very impressive - and to be honest a lot bigger than I remember from the shop!! It was of V. and A having a cuddle and is lovely. It reminded me of the first "professional" shoots we had done when A. was around 8 months old and had just started to crawl.

He was as pleased as punch about his new found skill and so was rocketing around the studio on his hands and knees with a huge smile on his face - it made for some excellent photos. The studio was in some factory/warehouse units just around the corner from where we lived in Chancellor Grove in London and E. had suggested that I take A. around as they were having a "special" offer. As seems almost universally the case with professional photographers, this involved one "free" photo and the opportunity to buy other shoots at a fairly extortionate rate (much like the photos we had done in Dubai - the cost was around GB1,000 equivalent although we did get a number of them as Christmas presents for the Grandparents)!

Getting to the photo shoot in Dulwich involved an atmospheric walk through what felt like the backdrop to a set from a 1970's crime drame - lots of echoing and empty warehouse units, a steel case lift with a door you had to pull closed and a cavernous room where the photo shoot took place. Although having learned to crawl, A. was still a little unsteady on the sitting up stakes and there is a great shoot of him looking over the back of a chair sitting back to front (with a big smile), where my restraining hand can just be seen at the foot of the photo.

I had not expected to be in any of the photos myself so was (very) causually dressed in a scruffy T-Shirt and unshaven. However, the photographer took a sequence of shots of me holding A. wtih me, somewhat ruffianly, looking on.

We subsequent had some photos done at the American Club next to where we lived in Hong Kong. This was before V. arrived and whilst A. and E. looked good , I looked somewhat uncomfortable (almost as uncomfortable as I looked in the family potraits my Mother and Father insited we all did in around 2000 but hat is a whole different post!).

In any event, we needed some shots with V. in hence the latest foray into the world of professional photography. Whilst eye-wateringly expensive, they certainy adorne our walls.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Well, hallo!

I cannot believe that it is nearly a year since I last posted anything on here! I think the strain of trying to post a message every day last November was to much for my (limited) creative abilities and it has taken nearly a year to recover!

Much has happened over the last year and I will (hopefully) recount a few of the tales over the next couple of weeks. We are now happily settled in to the land of sand and dates. Work is as frenetic as ever, and E, A and V. are all doing well.

V. is still very strong willed and knows her own mind. She is however, doing well at school and genuinely seems to be enjoying herself. Unlike her older brother, she loves drawing and writing, and has, since the Summer, been gradually getting to grips with her reading. Ballet is still going well and she also does drawing and gymnastics. When she is in the mood, she will talk the hind legs off a donkey (she is particualy adept at telling stories - usually as a bed time avoidance mechanism! Her plots need a little further development (they mainly involve fairies and stolen goods - her non-stop diet of Barbie films may be to blame for this!). She is also still the youngest and tallest member of her class.

A. is still mad keen on footy - coincidentally playing DESS Year 4 yesterday and only losing 2 - 0 which is a significant improvement on the thrashing that they received in the equivalnet Year 3 fixture last year. He is still as chatty and gregarious as always and has come on leaps and bounds at school - doing very well at Maths (certainly does not take after his parents...) and reading. Writing still needs a little work but is definietly improving. We have also started up cricket again on a Saturday morning at Safa Park - not quite the same as the Gappers in HKCC but with the cooler weather a geat way to spend a morning - the smell of fresh cut grass is dififult to beat.

He has also taken up the piano and whilst practice is a little hit or miss, he seems to take quite a pride in his playing - a recent conquest of "She'll be coming around the Mountain" being a case in point. Since the last post he has been on two camps - Year 3 1 night camp and Year 4 2 night camp. He seems to enjoy both (who wouldn't with the amount of kayacking/fishing and water sports that they seemed to involve) but it certianly shows he is becoming more independent. One other area of independence is his refusal to get his hair-cut. A slight trim was all he allowed after a 5 month refusal to visit the hairdresser so he is looking more like a teenager than ever. His recent 9th birthday involved a party with his friend G at Soccer Circus at Mirdiff - the dad's enjoying it as much as the 15 boys!

E. is doing well. She has a wide circle of friends mainly from School and the various kids activities and goes to her monthly book club with her friend K. We also try to go to the local pub quiz on Tuesday's with V. and R (although V. is not well at the moment and may have to go back to UK for an operation). With the arrival of the Winter, the weather is good and we are looking forward to some R & R at the forthcoming Eid break in RAK. Let's see if I can write the next post in less than a year!.