Nearly three months ago a section of our front room back in Harrogate resembled the setting for a weird kind of car boot sale. A collection of random household objects were piled up in preparation for a journey into the unknown. Our trusty removal firm (ha!) told us that shipping would take five weeks max so we should provide a delivery address in Dubai soon after our arrival.
As we left home with no fixed abode in Dubai we had visions of the whole lot arriving whilst we were still residing in a small hotel room. With that thought in mind we felt we had no time to waste in getting ourselves settled into a suitable apartment. We needn’t have worried.
Five weeks came and went and another five went by before we found out that our shipment was taking a different route and was going to Sohar, in Oman. Over the phone we could hear the decision-maker in Yorkshire heaving a tired sigh at the stupidity of our questions. Didn’t we know that docking in a port, two hours away from Dubai was saving time on delivery? Hang on, saving time?
In the end even the local agent’s estimation went out of the window and all of a sudden we had a call to say our shipment would be delivered by one person in the next hour. On the dot the doorbell rang and in he came, wheeling our boxes, followed by one, two, three, four – no less than eight chaps to share the unpacking duties. With so many hands it was all done in a trice and we were left staring in wonder at the good and bad decisions we had made back in January when we didn’t have much of a clue about what we needed to bring and what we REALLY needed to bring
We knew we wanted to rent a furnished apartment in Dubai and the fact that the basics were in place from the start was a huge help. We have listened as other expats have told us how they spent weeks on the floor of an empty flat whist they worked their way through the shopping list that would ensure they could sleep, eat and shower in comfort. No thanks. Luckily, we had the foresight to anticipate what an unfurnished apartment might mean in reality.
What we should have realised is that what seems furnished on the surface, can prove to be unfit for purpose in reality and in hideous taste! Witness the dining room table and chairs we started with. A circular table in a space that required a rectangle and made of such dark wood we needed the light on in the day just to see what we were eating. It was miserable to look at and the chairs were guaranteed to cause acute back problems. They had to go. On the upside, the bed in the main bedroom is vast and beautifully comfortable. I can forgive a lot of things, as long as I can get a good night’s sleep.
The kitchen is well designed with lots of storage. Someone in the recent past had nipped to IKEA and filled their trolley with the kind of stuff students in their first year at uni might find helpful. Cheap and cheerful pots and pans, not designed for a lifetime’s service, plus a selection of implements that seem to suggest real cooking might be possible. The knife block, for example contains four knives of varying sizes but all fail to cut through anything tougher than butter. With one all-purpose cooking tray and no oven-to-tableware, serving a meal with any sort of grace has been a challenge. No longer. We are back to full service since the decent knives, sturdy saucepans, the pressure cooker, roasting tins and several oven-proof dishes arrived.
We have been a bit fanciful with some of the items we thought we would need and others I can see are ‘comfort blankets’. Why else would I believe Delia’s Summer and Christmas cookery books would be so essential to a new life in Dubai?
Lamps are always useful to add mood and contrast to a living space and I have been mentally placing several in focal points in the apartment for weeks. Packing seven was perhaps bit OTT, particularly as beside lamps are provided, but who knew?
Here’s a selection of some of our good and not so good packing decisions.
• Not dragging bedding from home over here – ours would not have been anywhere near the right size for this gigantic bed
• Including teapots of various sizes, favourite mugs and Yorkshire tea – being able to refill your mug with a proper cup of tea is great!
• Packing Sellotape, screwdriver, torches, extension leads and the like – those unglamorous but useful items that that help solve niggling domestic issues quickly
• Bringing some pictures from home are great reminders of people and places that are meaningful and help to make a rented apartment feel like home
Not so good
• Shipping quantities of favourite toiletries – most things are available here
• Including Tim’s heavy towelling dressing gown and several of my cardigans – back in Yorkshire we obviously couldn’t conceive of living in a place where every day is a hot one!
• Not bringing the really nifty wooden stepladder that would have helped me reach the top cupboards in the kitchen and bedroom
• Failing to include a single cake tin – I’m told baking in air-conditioned comfort is the thing to do when it’s too hot to go out and right now I am ill prepared to take part in a Great Dubai bake-off.