Tuesday, 19 August 2014

My tea and I

I’m addicted to tea. I didn't think it would happen this way. After holding out for so long while living in a country of tea drinkers it took moving to Dubai to plant the seed of tea addiction in me. I was pulled in by the subtle allure; a friends place, and interesting mug, the beckoning scent of tea making its way through the air. Permeating the room. Initially whispering, then announcing, then shouting, DRINK ME!

I still resisted through the rest of my time in Dubai. The allure of the beverage was undeniable but somehow nothing my kitchen cupboards had the power to quite hit the spot and so instead of becoming a fully fledged obsession, my little seed of addiction simply simmered, biding its time until a more opportune moment should present itself.

Then we moved back to Scotland and on one particularly cool summers day I walked into a shop only to have my life changed. Because there it sat. There sat the little box of Earl Grey which would soon reek havoc upon my mind. The battle was brief. The box would be mine and up to the counter we waltzed.

The end was within sight. We weren’t quite there yet but it was close. I could smell it.

The next few days passed in tense anticipation. The tea was there, it was within my reach but the moment never seemed quite right. This was a momentous tea and deserved just the right setting. I eventually relented and made the first cup. It was a blissful moment. I savoured the familiar and comforting scent. But my journey was not yet complete. There was one last hurdle. My need for occasion. Due to this the tea still made only rare appearances in my life.

Strangely enough it took the development of another ritual to solidify that of my tea drinking. I was experimenting with a breakfast muffin recipe which simply lent itself so exceptionally to being accompanied by tea that the two soon became a stable of my morning routine. But he muffins soon ran out and the eventuality of breakfasts not compatible with the accompaniment of tea came round and yet my cup stayed. Many a time while I still tried to deny my addiction did I sit down to a breakfast without my cup. But this was to no avail since I never lasted more than three mouthfuls before I had to get up and boil that kettle. I now have to admit that I am well and truly addicted.

And now when the kettle has quietened and the milk has been poured I am left with a new true friend. My pale but feisty little cup of tea.

My cup

Thursday, 26 June 2014

When in doubt, create a new folder.

I’ve spent my day so far organising all that rubbish that so inexplicably accumulates at lightning speeds on computers. It started out as a simple wish to try and be a little responsible and back-up my files. That simple impulse then developed into a ‘hey, since I’m at it why don’t I also clean out the files first?’. Perfectly logical thought. After all, I don’t want to waste my time or gigabytes on useless, out-of-date or why-on-earth-did-I-ever-keep-this files.

However, that second impulse despite all its virtues has sent me down a little bit of a dark rabbit hole. After what felt like forever (though the clock tries to tell me it was just 40 minutes), numerous deleting's and countless new folders created, I thought I’d sit back and reward myself with that ever satisfying task of emptying out the recycling bin. It would take a hoarder even more dedicated than myself not to recognise and feel the satisfaction of watching all those items swept out in the hit of a button and blink of an eye. Then when I open up the bin and glance smugly at the item total (642 btw) I’m forced to grind to a halt when I notice what the actual items are. Looks like my entire music library has been emptied into there along with some pictures and other things I’m pretty fond of. Have I developed some kind of strange hoarders nostalgia that has set in so abruptly that I can go from choosing to delete something to suddenly having so extreme an attachment to it in a matter of minutes?

I’m still not sure.

But the show must go on and I’ve come up with the theory that I’ve just not emptied the bin in a long time so forgotten about deleting some of the things. I do know I purged my music collection a couple of months ago and will have cleared out duplicates at the same time which I am hoping explains the crucial items. Anyway, after some deep breaths and further scrutiny I’ve come to the conclusion it won’t be the end of the world for this stuff to go so after restoring just four files I wasn’t willing to take that chance on (and probably a little further procrastination in the form of publishing this post) I’ll be hitting that delete button.

So here I sit. Typing up what will inevitably become just another in a long list of where-did-this-come-from files. Therefore, by releasing the frustration over my current clutter littered laptop I am simply creating fuel for the fire of frustration next time I undertake this dreaded task.

Oh, the drama.

P.S. – It's not all bad, while opening up long forgotten folders I discovered a bunch of old favourite photos including this little cute.


Saturday, 15 March 2014

A Little Produce Craze

The kitchen this week has been filled with fresh produce and I’m loving it! Strawberries from Egypt and local beef tomatoes seem to be in season since there is a crazy abundance of them at the hypermarket.

Such beautiful quality too that I couldn’t help but snap a few pictures before getting to business devouring them.



These picture do not do justice to the size of these tomatoes, not to mention their weight! I read somewhere that the proof of quality in a fruit is in it’s weight – if there is any truth to that, these babies are gold. I’ve been squeezing them into every meal I can while hoping I can get away with this sudden tomato craze without making both Sam and I sick of them for life.

Now, before I bore you to death with all this tomato talk and pictures, I’ll move unto something much more interesting – STRAWBERRIES!


I must admit I got a little carried away in the shop and bought three trays of them, but I’ve already been proven just since one tray is already gone and another is well on it’s way to being left empty.

Needless to say I’ve been finding any excuse to eat more of these. Which hasn’t been that hard, after all, what breakfast, dinner, lunch, midnight-snack is complete without some strawberries?

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Spring has Sprung – Just in Time!

Spring has now sprung over here in Dubai. Patches of poor irrigation have started showing themselves through wilting trees and flowers. Everybody and anybody who steps outside glistens with sweat. An the balcony is officially too hot to stand on during the day again – confirmed by my poor burnt feet from a foolish attempt to water the plants barefoot this morning.

Aside from the heat, one big sign of spring is that the Palm trees have started shooting up bright green stems with little green bubbles all over them which I have been reliably informed are the beginnings of dates.


These little sprigs have gone a surprisingly long way to preparing me for the idea of leaving so soon. When I moved here in August, these same trees were at the stage where they had carried these little fruits their full cycle and were dropping them left right and centre. Since then I’ve seen them pruned for the winter, watched stacks of them being uprooted and heaped into the back of those little white pick-up trucks which Dubai seems to have an inexhaustible supply of. Seen them being planted in some truly random locations – in case you’re looking for an idea for sprucing up an empty stretch of road, apparently somebody seemed to think planting a lone palm tree three quarters along it would make all the difference.

Now as I watch them start up their date producing season again, I feel like I’ve come full circle on my journey with these trees, and by some weird extension that makes sense in my mind, I’ve come full circle in my time here in Dubai. I can look at them working hard at pumping out those little stems and say that it’s going to be alright, I know what’s ahead of them and I know it will turn out well. In the same way I feel like I’ve experienced every season of Dubai – cheating a little by skipping the worst of the summer – I’ve gotten to know so many different people that I would never have met elsewhere. And at every turn I’ve learnt something new, not only about this place and it’s melting pot of cultures but also about myself, and that, though this time here has been brief, it’s been by no means fruitless.


Monday, 10 March 2014

And so it begins…

It looks like we might be moving back to the UK before too long. So the past week has been filled with preparations. After picking up boxes and bubble wrap so that I could start packing, I procrastinated/completed a different project by spending an entire morning photographing everything and anything non-essential that won’t be coming back with us. Then gradually through the rest of the week, I placed ads for them on our local copy of craigslist – Dubizzle. Actually going through the form filling rigmarole of placing the ads turned out to be much more tiresome than expected, which is why it took me a few nights before they were all up – I decided that once I started submitting ads with only a two word description of the item, it would be time to take a break.

As part of the getting-ready-to-leave movement, I’ve had to get a sprucing kit back together which is bringing back not so distant memories of getting the Glasgow flat ready for hand-off. This time though, Olive oil and my trusty magic eraser sponge have been teamed up with black paint from my art kit instead of the previously trusty but now failing black felt tip marker – originally inspired by Julia Roberts’ black boot sprucing moves in ‘Pretty Woman’.


As you can see in the picture, my sprucing kit has also grown to include the laptop mouse which keeps the the stream of ‘University Challenge’ and ‘Mob Wives’ episodes steady – another essential to any housekeeping endeavour.

The Selling has actually been going surprisingly well. After a quiet first couple of days there’s been a steady stream of enquiries and I’ve surprised both Sam and myself with my newly discovered haggling skills and even managed to make a profit on a couple of items!

Friday, 7 March 2014

This morning

Looking out he window just now, I realised that the cute little pile of sand, dust etc. which I’d swept from the rest of the living-room floor yesterday is no longer there.

I know it’s not because I swept it up both since I remember the hurry I was in yesterday to get to started cutting my pattern and because I can see it’s remnants scattered about the place after no doubt having been tromped through countless times yesterday.



Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Pigeon Little

A Couple of weeks ago we had a little baby pigeon hang out on our balcony for a couple of days before he was fully ready to take on the big bad world. He turned up looking bewildered and fluffy and went on to huddle in a little corner, preen his itchy new feathers and stare intently at my carrot shoots before launching himself into grown up pigeon life.

Pigeon little1

Pigeon little2

The poor wee thing didn't seem at all amused with this whole life-outside-of-the-nest thing.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

This year so far…

Sam and I finally made use of the buildings’ cinema room and hired it for a viewing of TinTin accompanied by some extremely indulgent Baskin Robins treats. After a bit of the obligatory running back and forth trying to figure out what control did what - and where to point it – we had a really nice evening in what felt like our own little private cinema.

why the conference table?

I repaired a top that’s had a hole in it for four years – small victories count too!


I got a ‘hug’ from my phone at a very opportune moment.


We were visited by a giant mystery bird of the night who pooped on our balcony rail. Probably TMI but I had to share – with photographic evidence of course – since it genuinely was like a mammoth poop compared to that of our regular pigeon visitors.

Mammoth poop

Normal poop

And finally, the two little pansy plants I picked up have been going nuts, taking over their previously far-too-large pot and popping up flowers like there’s no tomorrow!

     Pretty pansies

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Winter in Dubai

When I started this blog I began but never finished a blog post that talked about some things I had learnt to appreciate about the summer heat here in Dubai. It’s now gotten to the point where we are far too far out of season for such a post but it occurred to me this morning that I might just have reached a point where I have enough to talk about for a matching post covering winter in Dubai.

So here we go.

      New Years Eve by the pool

Spending time outside – Sam and I have finally started making use of our roof in the evenings and it has been wonderful. I still feel pretty weird though, sitting under a palm tree and looking out unto a pool while layered up in jumper, socks (a novelty these days) and occasionally a blanket. I had underestimated how good it would feel to spend time outside again beyond the rush from house to car and intent to make full use of the opportunities I have to do so before summer hits again.

Gardening – Carrying on in the spending time outside theme, I’ve started a little container garden on our balcony. This is very much just an experiment, I may bee a bit late to have anything fully grown before summer and I’ve never planted in containers before, but I am looking forward to seeing what I can do. I’ve gone small, very small. There is one container with a couple of rows of carrots and another that was supposed to be for strawberries but is now going to be home to my little herb garden – which I should probably be simply referring to as my rosemary plant just now since the basil dried up during my trip to Scotland. The decision to buy strawberry seeds was made in the shop and one I immediately regretted once home and looking up how to grow strawberries from seed. Nonetheless I’m giving them a little try but don’t have great hopes for their survival. The carrots and strawberries I refer to are currently simply hypothetical since I only planted the seeds yesterday but I can report that my rosemary plant is loving life outside and has already perked up quite a bit.

Cosy-ness – Moving in-doors, I have been thoroughly enjoying not having the icy AC blasting constantly. Opening windows and having a cool breeze flow in! I’d forgotten just how great the entire concept of opening a window and it being colder outside than in could be! The chilly nights have also allowed me to start wearing jumpers, snuggling under a blanket on the couch and just to enjoy wrapping up and being cosy instead of sweating like a little piggy just from daring to do the dishes with no AC.

Imaginary Snow – This last one is a little cheeky since it does involve a fair doze of imagination but it’s nonetheless something I’ve been enjoying since winter arrived and not something I think I’ll be able to do once it’s summer again – or at least it would take a whole lot more imagination. Early mornings when the sun is rising, just before the sky turns pink, there is a sort of grey light. Everything is brighter and it’s clearly not night anymore and yet there’s not enough light yet for everything to have reached it’s full colour potential, the buildings and bushes sort of look like grey-toned versions of themselves. And the sand looks white. Wonderfully, gloriously white! this means that when I get up early enough (which to be honest really doesn’t happen very often), I can look out the kitchen window – bonus points if I can make a cup of tea in time – and admire the vast and sumptuous blankets of ‘snow’. The power of nostalgia never seizes to amaze.

                           picture this in white...