Saturday, November 30, 2019

Finishing post in sight. All about V.

So whilst this month has not been a perfect 30/30 it has not been quite as bad as previous years. I have promised to do a post about V. having done one about A. so to ensure no sibling arguments I will take advantage of the opportunity do so now.

As mentioned in previous posts V has had a tough 6 months having managed to break her leg (tibia and fibula) in a trampoline accident in June.

In consequence our Summer holiday plans underwent a considerable change although ultimately we managed to get to Spain with my Sisters family although V's mobility was still curtailed and it has only really been in the last 6 to 8 weeks that she has started to get back to normal. Whilst school and other activities have been challenging, V has been staying occupied with a huge amount of drawing and painting and despite some wobbles has been putting on a brave face.

She is naturally quite an active person - moving and dancing around is her default mode even in quiet periods so enforced immobility has been a big trial but she is working hard to meet these challenges and whilst it has not been easy for her (trying to get around school on crutches or in a wheelchair is never straigthforward) it has been a great testament to her strength of character in the way she has dealt with it.

She is a great fan and participant of the debate club (her team won best junior debaters at the National challenge last week) and her teachers were were very complementary at the recent parant/ teacher evening despite having missed a lot of school due to her leg and related problems.

She still loves drawing and art and she will also muck in with the cooking. She is happy to have a chat about anything that takes her fancy and in contrast to her brother is not backwards in coming forwards if there is anything to be said. She has a good circle of friends at school although as with A. some have left recently but all in all she is getting on well and on the road to recovey after a trying Summer.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Another short post

Just a quick update. Emerged from the Cyclechallenge unscathed although feeling a little weary this evening. Good conditions for the ride and managed to keep up with the rest of the team until around the 60 km mark but the field was then quite spread out and the ride home was quite challenging. Was hoping to join on the back of one of the prominent riding teams (Oryx) but they started at the back and by the time they passed me they were going at a good rate but almost immediately after one of their members came off on the D54 bridge at Global Vilage so by the time I saw them again it was virtually at the finish. My own team were patiently waiting at the Motor City (although I was not the last one home). Whilst tired I managed a BBQ and "Some Like it Hot" tonight (A. was at a party) so looking forward to my bed tonight.

Thursday, November 28, 2019


Short post tonight as I need to get to bed due to a very early start for the cycle challenge tomorrow. Having been racing about all day in various meetings in the office and then for a pitch down in Jebel Ali so my final preparations commenced later than planned (and it seems I do not have a functioning bike pump which I seem to recall was a concern last year.....). Feeling a little nervous but hope to enjoy it and complete the 100 km within a reasonable time - this will be the longest distance I have ridden - the cycle challenge is usually 92 km so will be interesting to see how it goes!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Gaining my religion

Down to Jebel Ali this evening for E's Baptism, Confirmation and FHC. It was a lovely service with a pretty decent congregation for a Wednesday evening although no doubt swelled by the friends and families of the other candidates which probably numbered around 20 in total although E was in a smaller group of 10 or so who were doing all the sacraments. It was great that the timing of the ceremony worked out with Dad being in Town and able to attend and whilst I did not recognise any of the hymns (which I have got say must have been a first as I have heard many, many hymns over the years) they were all very jolly and sung lustily by the choir and the Priest.

E. had said that most of her fellow candidates were getting married which might explain why she was the lead candidate for the ceremony which meant that I did not get a chance to see what I was supposed to be doing in my dual role of Godparent and Sponsor but it all went off with out a hitch (although one of the candidates obviously did not get the memo about wearing white as she arrived resplendent in a red cocktail dress).

A terrific evening which I think the kids also enjoyed although I guess it must have felt a little unusual to see their Mother up on the altar rather than themselves at these kind of events.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Failing our quizzical

The problem with blogging about our trips to the Dhow & Anchor quiz (and regular readers of this blog will recall that my Father's visits to Dubai in November always involve at least one if not two pub quizzes) is that it becomes increasingly difficult to think of an original title to the blog post. I have not been back through the archives but I am pretty sure that the title of this post is not a re-tread of a previous title (although a theme might be noticed) and on this occasion is pretty apt as tonight's performance by the Loose Cannons (a play on the name our locale back in England) was pretty disappointing.

We always struggle on the picture round although with the help of two gentlemen on a table next to us we struggled to a princely 3 out of ten (still slightly disappointed that we did not recognise Judd Herschel and Iron Maiden). The "wacky maths test" round was virtually impossible unless you had an encyclopaedic knowledge of fairly obtuse facts (the shirt number worn by David Beckham while playing for Real Madrid and Justin Bieber's age being two particularly pertinent examples of what we had to contend with). There was also an abstract film round where you had to guess the film title from a very crowded set of pictures set in a cinema - this was an interesting round which we struggled on but at least gave us the satisfaction of scoring a third of the marks rather than what became a depressingly consistent 20% on the other right uns (save for general knowledge) - our aspirations are generally very modest - getting 50% correct is usually regarded as a success but tonight was tough so we are keeping our fingers crossed that next week is easier.

Monday, November 25, 2019

No.1 son

Time got an update on A. - now 17 years old (how did that happen?). Earlier today I found a postcard written to him by my Sister to commemorate the day of his birth at Southmead hospital which was addressed to Boy R. as he had arrived so suddenly that we had not got around to deciding on a name - the rather frenetic circumstances of his arrival and my journey back from a holiday to Cyprus to greet him are told in an earlier post somewhere in the archives. It is still difficult to believe that it all happened 17 years ago!

Having started off life weighing in at around 2.2kg he is still as thin as a rake although now somewhat taller - over 6 ft. He is still essentially a carnivore preferring meat based products supplemented by the odd sprig of broccoli and he will also eat sweet corn (and chips if they can be counted as vegetables). Although preferring like most teenagers to hide away in his room or communing with his mates on his PlayStation, he is great company when you can catch him in one of his talkative moods although considerably less vocal than his Sister.

He still enjoys playing football at school and has recently taken up Dungeons and Dragons (and having received a pool table for his birthday the evening is also punctuated by the sound of balls being pocketed at high velocity). He remains a talented pianist but is currently wading towards his Grade 5 under sufferance and notwithstanding the strictures of his glamorous Russian teacher N.getting him to practice is a constant battle. Whilst still enjoying reading he does not devour books in anything like the quantities he used to although he will still crack through a book in double quick time if it takes his interest.

As noted elsewhere, the first part of the year was dominated by his GCSEs and he did very well justifying all his (and his Mothers) hard work so that he is now taking his preferred A levels (Maths, Physics and Computer Science) so no more of the essay writing which he disliked so much. We are now starting to look at possible university options back in the UK with Exeter, Bristol and Kent featuring due to their computing courses as possibilities.

He has made some good friends at school (although as is the way of Dubai, one (R) has recently returned to UK) and is pretty easy going around his peers and their families which will hopefully stand him in good stead when he eventually goes back to the UK. He and his Sister still rub along pretty well albeit they are very different in terms of personality - more about V in another post -but around the family his general default position is to go with the flow and keep to the background and he seems happy enough to do so which is the main thing.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Visitors galore

No sooner had my friend J departed (he having replaced E's brother D in the guest bedroom), then my Father has arrived hotfoot from England. We have a packed itinerary ahead for him including a Baptism, a trip to the Anantara Hotel on the Palm, some pub quizzes and of course the Rugby 7s - e main event of the trip (he also could if he so desired go to the F1 in Abu Dhabi but neither of us are particularly motor racing fans). Keep your fingers crossed that the weather stays good.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Busy Saturday

Early start today as I headed off for a bike ride up the stick and around the loop at Al Qudra. Next Friday is the 100km Cyclechallenge so this was the last chance to get some training in so 85 km later (with some brisk headwinds) I was feeling fairly tired but gathered myself to head off to the golf with J. Although I spent most of the rest of the day sitting down it was a great afternoon's entertainment with Rory McIroy, Shane Lowry, Sergio Garcia and various other luminaries playing. The Race to Dubai has the great advantage of being free entry (although the F&B prices inside kind of makes up for it) and the weather was excellent (so good in fact I seem to have rather caught the Sun on my face). The last part of the day has. Even dominated by the football. Having just watched Liverpool we are about to watch Man City vs Chelsea. so today has been a real sports fest.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Memory lane

Our month of visitors continues with my old friend J in town - best man at my wedding and holder of many stories from our dim and distant youth (we were at primary school together and later at the local Grammar before going our separate ways at University bur then spending a memorable period together living in London in the earlier 90s). Although spending some time as a lawyer, J's career has been somewhat more eclectic than mine having dabbled as a teacher, security paper salesman and currently working for a FE college attracting overseas students to Sussex in the U.K.. He is en route back home having spent the last couple of weeks in the Far East and it is always good to catch up (albeit with a slight frisson of concern as to precisely which of the stories from our shared youth he will share with E and the kids). It is always interesting to hear how friends, family and connections from the past are doing. His father was a senior policeman from our home town and it is fascinating to hear how life has developed in the interim (J now has a 2 year old half sister which I guess as a someone over 50 is probably quite a thing to get used to).

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Arabian Golf

Another interesting day with a mixture of working from home followed by some networking at the Golf. The "Race to Dubai" is a staple of the UAE calendar. Today was somewhat of a departure for me as I was entertained at the the 19th hole so had a Grandstand view of the 18th hole and some excellent F&B. As noted in previous posts the weather has been somewhat varied in Dubai - despite a somewhat cloudy day we managed a full programme of Golf including a now traditional Rory McIlroy wild but ultimately successful shot (a birdie) at the 18th!


One of the reasons why leaving U.K. was a relatively attractive proposition was the weather. On days of clear Luke skies and warm temperatures, England is a particularly attractive proposition. However, these are few and far between. A cold, windy, damp climate was much more the norm so the warmth (albeit humid) Hong Kong and a pretty much continually sunny Dubai has been a very clear attraction. Today however even in Dubai the weather has been particularly damp and grey. Hopefully not for long.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The sound of music

When I turned the transistor radio on in my bathroom this morning (I listen to the radio when I am having a shower and when driving which seems, when I think about it slightly odd - why not at other times?), I was not met with the usual selection of hits from the 80's, 90's and Noughties (a far cry from my regular diet of James Naughtie (sp?) and Co. on the Today Programme which greeted me in the mornings when we were living in the UK) but by classical music.

This usually means one of two things in Dubai, either you have accidentally re-tuned the radio or someone related to the ruling family has died. In this case it was one of Sheikh Khalifa's brothers and his passing - as is usual in this part of the world - is being marked by a period of mourning - 3 days in this case.

This generally means that there is no popular music on the radio and most forms of entertainment will be suspended (and on previous occasions Schools and public offices are closed although that does not seem to be the case this time). I also seem to recall that the period of mourning is also "dry" which I suspect may make the team drinks and dinner arranged for tomorrow evening in honour of a visiting colleague a rather subdued affair although we are still awaiting final confirmation that only soft drinks will be available at licensed establishments.

In any event, given the somewhat sombre music in the radio during my drive home I put on some CDs, one of which turned out to be one of the recordings that my Father had made earlier this year of him playing some of his favourite pieces. I had forgotten that I had kept this in the car (pretty much the only piece of readily accessible music equipment in our household that plays CDs) and so had a very enjoyable trip down memory lane of some of the tunes Dad played in the local pubs around Penge when in his early 20's (so around the mid-1950's). The songs are mainly taken from the musicals and form part of a wider exercise (which involved the purchase of some surprisingly small but remarkably effective recording equipment and the enlisting of the technical expertise of his friend John) to record Dad playing a selection of his favourite piano pieces divided in to various genres - popular songs from the musicals and from the 1920's to 1960's, classical music, jazz/ragtime, hymns etc. He is visiting us next week so hopefully he will have found the time to record a couple more CDs - the project has been put on hold recently as he is putting together a history of his local bowls club to mark its centenary but we have been promised further updates.

I am also pleased to report that a replacement panellist has been located for tomorrow morning's presentation so sighs of relief all round (see yesterday's post for details)!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Public Speaking

Over the years I have spoken a number of times at public events and, whilst I am now generally reasonably comfortable in addressing an audience, my level of comfort is directly proportional to my familiarity with the topic.

In my early career, getting a speaking slot at a conference was a good way to reach new clients in a reasonably cost effective way - speakers would generally be given a free pass for the rest of the conference so you could network and do some profile raising at the same time. However, most speaking gigs would be offered to the conference sponsors first so any opportunities that did not require sponsorship costs were (a) relatively rare and (b) quite popular with other potential speakers so it was always necessary either to come up with some particularly fascinating topic (not always easy in the legal world) or to seek speaking slots at the more technical or esoteric conferences where the competition for having a paper selected for presentation was likely to be less intense. As a consequence I spent a great deal of time in my early years (particularly when based in Hong Kong) giving presentations on fairly obscure (at least in my professional world) subjects. This tended to make the experience pretty stressful as - whilst one can usually reasearch a fairly narrow topic in reasonable depth to at least make some (mildly) interesting points - you could never avoid the risk that someone in the audience would starting asking some tricky questions. I recall delivering a presentation in Beijing years ago on regulatory developments in offshore wind farms in China (which somewhat disconcertingly was being simultaneously being translated into Mandarin whilst I was speaking) and receiving an incredibly convoluted question in heavily accented English on (I think) the likely inpact of new windfarms on existing subsea structures and who would have to pay for any damage. I am pretty sure that neither the questioner or I were any the wiser on the topic after that particular exchange.

The reason I mention this is that, over the years I have been able to be slightly more discriminating about which topics I present on. However, we are running a panel session as part of a wider conference this week and one of our panellists has had to bow out at the last minute due to illness. The topic is reasonably technical and we are struggling at such short notice to find a replacement and there is some talk that since the topic was allegedly my idea (I am pretty sure it was not but its precise origins have been lost in the mists of time) I should step in. Whilst I have a passing familiarity with some of the issues, I very much do not feel well qualified to fulfil this role. We have around 48 hours to find someone who is better qualified and I am crossing everything in the hope we are successful. Wish me luck as I certainly do not wish to repeat my Beijing experience.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Solar Powered

We bought our first solar lights when we were living in England over 15 years ago and they still reside - somewhere- in my Fathers back garden occasionally emitting a little feeble light when we remember to dust down the panel on our Summer visits back home. The technology has undoubtedly changed over the years and yesterday we unveiled the latest solar lights model - in the form of a strings of lights attached by Es brother D. to the pergola in the back garden. It was Ds last day before traveling back to the wintry depths of North East England so we invited our Australian friends around for some farewell drinks and to try out the outdoor bar I bought at the beginning of the Summer (we have kept it inside out of the heat and it also weighs a ton so transportation is not easy. The weather has finally been deemed suitable for outdoor activity and it also helped that D was around to give me a helping hand in positioning it) and to test out the new lights. On the whole the event was a success - the bar provided a convenient focus and the lights - whilst not particularly intense - bathed the whole scene in a soft glow. They even had a control panel which allowed the individual lights to glow intermittently in various combinations somewhat reminiscent of Christmas lights - another development in solar technology providing a point of difference with the original versions. It was a very pleasant evening and hopefully to be repeated over the Winter months.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Political times

The UK is heading for a General Election and the political manoeuvring is well underway. Slightly closer to home (and in some ways much more interesting) is the nation states that V and her friends at school have created over the last few years - Albey ( not sure if I have completely the correct spelling) which is essentially a union of states with its own flag, National Anthem, constitution (22 Articles last time I was allowed to look), a prime minster and various heads of state (of the constituent parts) which provoked much discussion over amendments to the constitution and spheres of influence. The constitution is truly a work of art (although the spelling could do with a little work), and shows a breadth of imagination and detail which is truly extraordinary. I suspect Albee will go the same way as any political institution based only on ideas and enthusiasm but at least it was easier to understand than the current political landscape in the UK.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Dubai days

Today was a classic Dubai Friday - the first day of our weekend but due to my teaching at Jebel Ali being cancelled, the opportunity for a bit of a lie in and then - with clear blue skies (albeit a suspicion that the heavens might open later (it did get very dark in the direction of the sea at one stage - but the rain held off) planning and executing the perfect lunch (introducing E's Brother to the delights of PF Changs at Mirdif) followed by a relaxing afternoon and leisurely BBQ - spicey garlic prawns, Irish pork sausages and chicken skewers. All framed by a blood red sunset, warm but not hot temperatures and when night fell, fireworks from Global Vilage next door. Unbeatable!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Missing post?

I have found the post I was intending to post on Tuesday (honest) but for some reason I cannot copy and paste it from the email I created it in so it will have to remain in the ether until I have figured out how to make it reappear. Instead, I will recount my adventures this morning when I went on a corporate bike ride - slightly different from the normal run of corporate hospitality which tends to revolve around watching rather than participating in a sports event. This one involved a rather early start as we all met up at 7am at the desert cycle track and took a very leisurely spin around a path I had not been on before - very picturesque around rolling sand dunes and the odd oasis and we were also interrupted a couple of times by Oryx taking a stroll across the track. Although I have been on the desert tracks a number of times, this was the first occasion that I had seen them up close and they were an impressive sight - particularly the long slightly curved horns which definitely looked like they could cause some damage if you displeased their owner. Around 3/4 of the way around we took a detour and headed for breakfast at Bab AlShams - a 5 Star hotel somewhat improbably constructed in the middle of nowhere. We used to come out to it when we first arrived in Dubai as it is in a suitably remote location which was still driveable and the kids could ride on camels and watch falcon displays ( it also has a good curry restaurant). In those days it was rather affectionately known as Bab Al Shambles but certainly today the service was impeccable and after a good breakfast we made our way around the rest of the loop back to the cars (albeit into a bit of a headwind). A very pleasant morning and also counted as part of the 100 km cycle challenge preparations so pretty much perfect!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Burnt rubber

Slight delay in yesterday's post which is not only late but also appears to have got lost in the ether - will hunt it down and publish it later but the subject of this post is the Car exhibition - Dubai's equivalent of the Motor Show in London where the latest models and car related gadgetry is put on display. This years edition has just started next door and it's main claim to fame so far has been the kerfuffle generated by the "drift and slide" track which the organisers appear to have set up outside our window - basically a car park where various high powered cars are driven at high revs in a series of concentric circles - doughnuts - leaving plumes of exhaustion and rubber-framed circles on the tarmac amid a cacophony of squealing tyres and roaring engines amplified by the surrounding office towers. Not ideal for the environment or for concentrating on work.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Recap 2

The first part of this year rather rushed by. A. was focussing on his GCSE's so the school breaks were mainly spent in the UAE and E went to see her parants to check up on her Mother after her fall. I spent more time than usual travelling around the region in addition to my Korea trips. Indeed as well as going to Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, for the first time since arriving in the Middle East I have visited Saudia Arabia. KSA is an interesting place although perhaps less different to other parts of the ME than it used to be a few years ago before the current relaxation of the strict societal precepts - most clearly seen with the changes in the dress and driving rules for women - one of my colleagues who used to live there said that he could remember when women were not permitted to serve in shops (even shops selling Ladieswear which must have made things a bit awkward) or to drive and standards of dress and public behaviour were rigously enforced by the specially designated officers who patrolled all public areas. Certainly when I have visited this year women seem to be playing a much more prominent part in public life e.g. at the immigration/customs checks at the airport, in serving in the shops, driving and other public areas/activities which in the West (and indeed in Dubai)we would regard as commonplace but which old Saudi hands regard as completely un-heard of e even a very short time ago. It makes huge sense economically as the consumer base has been massively increased almost overnight. Nevertheless, some if the old practices remain - it is still a little disconcerting as a single male to be led to segregated areas in restaurants although even this is apparently becoming less common. Otherwise KSA (at least the parts of Riyadh that I have seen) is rather like Dubai in that there is huge amount of building work and general development going on - cranes, heavy equipment and teams of labourers everywhere - so it will be interesting to see whether this economic direction of travel is maintained and where it will end up.

Sunday, November 10, 2019


After a beautifully sunny weekend, today dawned a little grey and got greyer as the morning wore on. By lunchtime, lightening was forking through the skies and thunderclaps rattled the window frames of the office. By chance I had discovered an umbrella in the back of one of the cupboards near my desk during a fruitless search for an old CV a few weeks ago, so, appropriately armed against the elements, I headed off to my lunchtime meeting. By the time the cab arrived at the DIFC the rain was speckling the windscreen and by the tine I had exited the cab, it was absolutely hammering it down. Fortunately there was sufficient protection from the various canopies from surrounding buildings but boy did it rain!

Dubai does sunshine very well. However, on the rare occasions when precipitation occurs, it buckets down and the absence of drainage becomes very noticeable as do any defects in the weatherproofing of the buildings. Today this mainly manifested itself in deep pools of water wherever the roads dipped downwards and on the way back to the office we passed a stationary saloon car, in the middle of the road hazards on, up to its doorframe in water and a somewhat unhappy looking driver gazing morosely out of the window. A colleague showed my a video taken at the local mall where one of the shops seemed to have installed an indoor swimming pool. It was only on closer inspection that you could see the shop assistants trying to clear the stock onto shelves and tables as rain cascaded in through the ceiling. It never rains but it pours.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Fitness in Dubai

Although it has a somewhat hedonistic image, exercise and the encouragement of outdoor activities is also very much part of the Dubai lifestyle. The Government has been actively promoting the 30 X 30 initiative where the residents are encouraged to do 30 minutes exercise for 30 days in October and November. As I have commented before, cycle tracks are a big thing in Dubai - over 250 km both in the city and in the desert. And of course this is the best time of year to indulge as the mercury drops and the opportunities to live the outdoor life increase. Es brother D is in town so we took ourselves off to the beach for the first time since the beginning of the Summer. It was lovely and not for the first time we were asking ourselves why we do not do it more often. Finding time to indulge is always an a challenge but hopefully, having rediscovered the joys of fresh air and the great outdoors we will surprise ourselves.

Friday, November 8, 2019


It has been a pretty mixed year so far. It did not get off to the greatest of starts as Es mother had a very nasty fall over the Christmas/New Year (fortunately while we were staying with there) and understandably it has been a long road to recovery. The first part of the year was also focussed on A's GCSEs and after a certain amount of cajoling he eventually did a great job and is now embarking on A level Maths, Physics and Computer Science. I have already alluded to Vs broken leg in an earlier post and this has been a major theme of the Summer as she has worked hard to recover. Workwise it has been a very interesting year with various departures and new joiners. The focus of the work has gradually shifted to the wider Middle East region so I have spent considerably more time on trips to KSA, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman than in the last 10 years. Definitely interesting times!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Ride on time

Not the 1980s dance floor smash hit (apparantly the words are actually"right on time" but the Italian producer misheard the first word when it was originally recorded), but an appropriate title to commemorate my first proper go on my new indoor bike trainer.
Having spent a considerable amount of time (and many viewings of various videos showing how to assemble the equipment - what would we do without YouTube?), I finally managed to attach my road bike to my wahoo kicker (I am probably the least mechanically minded person I know so I count this as a major achievement). 30 minutes is not long in the great scheme of things but I also started listening to a new podcast series - E. is a great devotee of podcasts but I have been much slower to adopt so by combining use of my new training equipment with a (for me) newfangled entertainment medium I am very much breaking new ground at the moment!

Walking on sunshine

Yesterday’s post is slightly late (only 24 hours….) mainly because of the golfing activities alluded to in my previous post. Regular readers will therefore be relieved to hear that I emerged from the experience (relatively) unscathed – I managed to pick up a speeding ticket on Hessa Street after I had purchased my new golf shoes so it was slightly more expensive than planned....

There is nothing more pleasant than spending an afternoon out of the office in the glorious Autumn sunshine of Dubai and yesterday was absolutely sensational weather - wise – clear blue skies, not to hot, and the course seemed to be bathed in a warm slightly hazy glow. Whilst my progress around the course was somewhat haphazard, I did manage to bump into a former colleague from many moons ago at the Dinner afterwards. She has recently retired which certainly gave me some pause for thought (although she is a slightly earlier vintage than me). Interestingly I now know a few people who for one reason of another have moved away from the main career – although it has to be said that most of them have not really retired but are focussing on something other than the daily grind (nice work if you can get it….). My Father was able to retire from the Civil Service at 57 which is not that much older than I am now – and he has made full use of the post-work years. However, given the age of the children, I suspect it will be a number of years before I am in a position to retire and certainly at the moment it seems a very distant prospect.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

New Shoes

I play golf maybe once or twice a year. I do not regard it as ..."a good walk spoiled" but neither do I see it as a sport that I am ever likely to be even passably average at so my clubs (traded with a colleague in Hong Kong for a bottle of whiskey) spend most of the year in hibernation, making a somewhat dusty and increasingly decrepit appearance on the rare occasions that I let my guard drop and am persuaded back on to a course. Tomorrow is such a day and as I excavated my equipment this evening from the darkest recesses of the Cat's room (also doubling as a storage room), I suddenly recalled exactly how stretched my meagre golfing resources had become when the memory of the sole of one of my golf shoes completely detaching itself from the upper part while striding up the fairway on the 18th hole during the last game I played back in March earlier this year. At the time I regarded the incident as being - if not exactly fortuitous - at least fairly well timed as (a) it could have happened on an earlier hole leaving me to shuffle around the course even less elegantly than normal; and (b) giving me plenty of time to purchase and break in a new pair. Obviously as soon as part (b) of the above had emerged as a conscious thought it disappeared forever into the box of "things I need to get round to doing", emerging only at a time (coming up to 10pm the night before the game), and place ( my bedroom) which is not particularly convenient. So tomorrow morning will now comprise fitting a days work into a morning, getting to the course and buying some golf shoes, breaking them in and going to the practice range whilst trying to remember exactly why I let myself get talked in to these things. Wish me luck.

Monday, November 4, 2019


Spent most of the day at a conference where one of the topics included a discussion on likely developments in the use of AI. I had been asked to participate in the discussion a couple of weeks ago (much to my surprise) and it was only when I took a look at the other panellists last night while preparing that I realised quite how different, shall we say my skill-set, was from the other panel members. Not being an engineer or a designer or an economist, I did rather stick out like a sore thumb and wonder whether my role was to lighten the mood - the situation was not helped when someone called me on my phone literally as the moderator was asking the first question of the session which he had directed at me. Mercifully the phone was on silent but I was painfully aware of the phone vibrating insistantly against my chest in my jacket pocket as I struggled to focus on the question and to compose an intelligible answer. As the audience shifted expectantly for my response I became aware that the microphone clipped to my tie was picking up the humming sound from the phone and I ended up taking the phone out of my pocket and with as much nonchalance as I could muster placing it on the table in front of me where it continued to rattle and hum whilst I thanked the moderator for asking me such an interesting question in an attempt to buy some more time. Fortunately the rest of the session was slightly less stressful. However, the conference was running very late so I had to hare up the Al Ain Rd to my next appointment which was the parents evening at the kids school for V's year. Fortunately this proceeded a lot more smoothly. V has had significant challenges this year due a badly broken leg (of which more anon) but notwithstanding the impact this has had on her school activities her teachers were fulsome in their praise so well done V.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Post RWC Blues

It was probably just as well that I posted by thoughts on the Rugby Cup final before the game yesterday as I was certainly in no mood to do so afterwards! A very disappointing outcome but I do not think the English team and supporters can have any complaints as the better side won (although I guess we were entitled to dream about what might have been after their extraordinary performance against the All Black last weekend….). I was also still recovering from my exertions in the Dubai cycle challenge build up ride on Friday morning so yesterday was a very quiet but nevertheless sports filled day as I have access to all the premiership football on the TV so took full advantage in an effort to numb the disappointment of the rugby. V. and I also caught up a couple of episodes of “The Good Place” which she had been very keen that I watch with her. Still not entirely sure that it is appropriate viewing for a 13 year old but it is a very clever series – I am guessing that she may have already seen some of the later episodes as she keeps dropping in teasers about what is going to happen next and I am looking forward to seeing how the plot develops. For someone who claims that not to watch much TV (except for the sport) I seem to be devoting quite a lot of time to it at the moment and this does not look likely to change in the near future particularly a I have a number of episodes of the Great British Bake Off to catch up on as well. Anyway, will try to move on to less TV and sport related topics for next post.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

World Cup fever

Big day today as England take on South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final in Japan. As usual I am looking forward to the game with a mixture of excitement and trepidation - the last two finals England have been in having resulted in a win (vs Australia in 2003 a match also made notable for A deciding to take his first steps) and a lose (vs S Africa in 2007 a day when V. also decided to take her first steps) - so both occasions particularly memorable! The match kicks off in just over an hour and I will be joined by some Australian friends so thought I would get my daily post in early just in case the aftermath does not lend itself to a blogpost!

Friday, November 1, 2019

It's that time of year again

So the 1st November signals as ever the start of the blogpost per day challenge and after a full year of neglecting this part of the internet I am determined to meet this years challenge....... plenty of material over the last 12 months so there is no excuse for failing to put pen to paper/ finger to IPad. One of my last posts in November last year was about my preparations for the Dubai cycle challenge and today was the final build up ride - 85km. Very hard work this year as I managed to lose the peloton whilst battling the head winds in the middle of the desert and spent most of the ride on my own so definitely feeling it this evening (although it did not stop the traditional Friday night BBQ). Completed the course in just over three hours six minutes averaging at around 26/27kph so definitely room for improvement- although hosting the office BBQ yesterday at home was probably not ideal preparation!