A break in Bulgaria

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The Eid holiday that follows Ramadan offers an opportunity for a few days away, but where to go? Bulgaria, it has to be said, wasn’t our first choice.

We thought about North India but at the start of the rainy season maybe this wouldn’t be such a good idea. A Korean colleague of Tim’s encouraged us to consider Seoul but again, the potential for heavy rain there at this time of year put us off. On paper, a five hour flight from Dubai to Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital, ticked a lot of our boxes. (more…)

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Tales from the Riverbank

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Back in Dubai, after a two-week, high octane visit to the UK and France it’s no wonder I’m feeling discombobulated. You what? Until this week, ‘discombobulated’, meaning ‘disconcerted or confused’, is a term I have only ever heard used in a comic context.

Listening to a heart-rending exchange on BBC’s Radio 4, the presenter chose this word to describe an interviewee’s state of mind following a particularly harrowing experience as a child. It jarred with me, as being merely ‘discombobulated’ did not come close to covering the situation being recounted, so I am now appropriating the word (thanks Woman’s Hour) for my own use.
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Write that book!

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I’ve been playing with the idea of writing a book for the last year so I thought it might be worth sharing a few tips on how I finally stopped talking about it and made a start. There used to be a sort of hushed reverence around announcing this kind of activity but in the age of self-publishing and blogging, writing a book is an achievable goal for pretty much anyone that has something to say. (more…)

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It’s Showtime!

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It’s a year since we started our expat adventure in Dubai and in keeping with my general aim of making the most of this fast moving experience, I will be making my entrance on the Dubai stage in the Short and Sweet festival this weekend.

Short and Sweet is the largest festival of ten minute plays in the world and the buzz around it is really exciting. Over six weeks, talented writers, directors and actors will present more than 80 bite-sized plays to packed houses and much applause. (more…)

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On the Indian food trail

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Dubai is full of glitzy, expensive restaurants but there is another side to this food-loving city that is easy to overlook. Old Dubai, is crammed with Indian street food sellers, artisan food producers, family–run restaurants and ethnic grocery stores, offering authentic regional specialities at bargain prices, but where to start? We have made tentative inroads to this other world but knowing where to go and what to order requires some serious insider knowledge. Enter Frying Pan Adventures, a small, local tour company started and run by two food-loving sisters, Farida and Arva Ahmed. (more…)

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It’s beginning to look a little like Christmas

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It was about this time last year that we had a conversation about what our Christmas in Dubai might look like. Should we take the Christmas decorations with us? Surely not. Likewise, the oversized fake tree that comes down from the loft every year? No, that would be ridiculous too. Wise decisions. Without all the familiar festive paraphernalia to hand it is easier to break away from convention and adopt a fresh approach. Deep down, I think the attempt to simply replicate what we usually do in this very different location would make me feel a bit sad.
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Pick and Mix Christmas

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I never dreamed that I would be able to achieve my idea of a perfect Christmas whilst living in Dubai but it is shaping up nicely to be just that. Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all the rest of the hideous panic buying that makes the countdown to December 25 a nightmare in the UK, is not happening here. It probably is at some level but that is my point, really. You don’t have to take part in all that if, like me, you hanker after a calmer lead up to Christmas. (more…)

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Working to enhance my experience

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Refurbishment, fit out or maintenance works in Dubai invariably carry explanatory signage declaring: ‘We are working to enhance your experience’, suggesting that the temporary inconvenience to the general public is for the greater good. This charming phrase suggests that behind the hoardings, persons unseen are labouring night and day to get things back on track as soon as possible.

Whether this is actually true or not is questionable as some of these ‘enhancements’ to existing premises can go on for months, with no discernible difference to the décor or layout when the grand reopening occurs! Leaving that to one side, the idea continues to resonate with me and is one I am taking to heart. (more…)

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