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Three cities in Iran (Part 3) Tehran

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Our final stop is Tehran, Iran’s capital city, a sprawling metropolis of eight million people where we hope to glimpse a little of the modern Iranian lifestyle. Our friends Saeid, Rita and their dear little boy Sherwin are our guides. Aged four, Sherwin is a fan of the children’s characters Topsy and Tim and is delighted to meet a real-life Tim. That makes me Topsy. Even though we don’t seem to behave much like the story book people, he seems happy enough to share his Mum and Dad with us for a couple of days.
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Three Cities in Iran (Part 2) Isfahan

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The 300-mile journey north to Isfahan takes at least five hours by road so we make an early appearance at Shiraz bus station, with a helpful taxi driver in tow to make sure we head off in the right direction. Isfahan is the ancient former capital of Persia, renowned for its historic sites, art and architecture. (more…)

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Three cities in Iran (Part 1) Shiraz

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It seemed as if it would never happen but finally – after all the official documents were in order – a six-night stay in Iran became a reality. Tim’s been travelling from Dubai to Tehran for work quite regularly but this was our opportunity for a trip together. With a seven-day visa, we only had a couple of days in each city to access the history, heritage, beauty and cultural achievements of this remarkable country. No problem. They are everywhere! (more…)

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Christmas my way

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It’s hard to believe our second and last Christmas in Dubai is fast approaching but the calendar doesn’t lie. A momentous decision has been made and so far, no regrets. Lunch on Christmas Day will be a home-cooked affair and a turkey, currently enjoying an organic life on a farm somewhere in Tipperary, is destined for our table in the UAE. (more…)

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Happy ever after in Santorini

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When it comes to travel, the Badley family have a pretty decent track record. Members of the clan have at one time or another, lived an expat life in Australia, Germany, the USA and Ecuador. One of our own currently resides in France and here we are in Dubai.

Even those that are at home in the UK are either planning the next overseas trip or returning from it. So when Matt and Nicole decided to tie the knot, it was an even bet that it might involve a flight somewhere. The nice surprise was that they invited us along to the festivities – in Santorini. (more…)

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What’s cookin’ in Kiev?

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My dinner has arrived and I’m nervous. It’s Chicken Kiev. I am dining at one of the city’s best known traditional Ukrainian restaurants and I have ordered a dish I last ate in London in the late 70s. The recipe is well known and comprises a chicken breast, flattened to accommodate a garlic butter and parsley stuffing before being rolled and sealed with an egg and breadcrumb coating. The flavourful butter ensures the meat stays moist during deep frying.

Someone should have warned me back then that chef has a tendency to overdo the garlic butter stuffing. My knife went in at just the right point to release a volcano of foaming fat. I just had time to notice the garlicky aroma before around 250 ml of boiling butter sprayed onto my chest, completing its journey down my front in meandering rivulets. Nice. No wonder Chicken Kiev makes me nervous. (more…)

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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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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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