Thursday, 31 January 2008

At Least Two?

I spotted this article about disruption to the internet caused by breakages to two undersea cables between Alexandria and Palermo, possibly caused by a ship's anchor.

Now far be it from me to blame our slow internet connection over the last while or so on anything other than this but I was bemused by this sentence:

In Dubai, at least two internet service providers (ISPs) were affected.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't this imply that there are more than two ISP's? So, go on then, I give up. I've got Du and Etisalat (who some would probably argue are one and the same thing) - but who else is there and are they better than our beloved government mon sorry duopoly? More to the point, I don't ever remember being invited to subcribe to them!

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

A Sad Time

One of my friends and colleagues passed away last week. He was involved in a car accident whilst on leave in South Africa and sadly died from his injuries.

Today we held a memorial service for him at school. It was a very emotional time with the school theatre packed with students and staff and even some parents. Many people spoke and the tributes from both students as well as staff were heartfelt and beautiful. My friend was a huge sports fanatic, and a great follower of football. He was an Arsenal supporter and we had a lot of friendly banter between us. In view of his love of football we chose to end the memorial service with a minute of applause to celebrate his life rather than silence to mourn his death. This is a form of mourning that has taken hold in the last couple of years led largely by the English Premier League and I know he would have been pleased.

Our kids were fabulous today and I am proud of them, he would be too.

Rest in Peace, mate.

Monday, 28 January 2008

A New Car!!!!

It has been decided that the Dubaibillies need a second car. Well, we go in opposite directions to work, we leave at different times and get home at different times so it makes sense.

We went and talked to the bank on Saturday then went to look at a couple of dealers (we know what we can afford and what we want in that price range). We have decided on a Kia Sportage. It is perfect for what we want, we tend not to buy and sell cars, jus buy them and keep them running until they die, so the resale value doesn't worry us and it will be a nice size for Skopelos when we retire there. Though why I am justifying it to you, dear reader, I really don't know.

So, I took out the loan (for historical and bureaucratical reasons we still have separate bank accounts), and we went to the dealer.

"I want a black one," said Mrs DB.

"I'm sorry?"

"I want a black one."

"I? What about we?"

"I'm driving it."

"I'm sorry?"

"I'm driving it!"

"But I took out the loan for it."

"Of course, did you expect me to?"

" !"

"Close your mouth, darling, we are in a car showroom."

So, by the weekend we should be proud owners of a shiny new Kia Sportage that isn't mine but that I have to pay for!

Not The Best Start to 2008 - Update

All's well that ends well.

That says it all really. The sponsor of the company has taken over the travel agency from the people who decided to close it down and he has decided to keep it running. Mrs DB has still got a job!

The only problem is that a very good friend, who worked with Mrs DB became a casualty 'cos the people who decided to close it down painted a very gloomy picture about the companies future to the sponsor and he felt he couldn't afford to take all the staff.

A great shame. Mrs DB and I are really hoping that we don't lose a friend over this.

Notice Anything Unusual...

in the days that I have blogged?

This year (alright, it's only 28 days old) I haven't yet blogged on a Friday!

Why not?

'Cos I can't get on the internet on Friday!


It's right, for the last three weekends I have not been able to connect to the internet on a Friday (this weekend it was Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

This is what happened:

3 weekends ago I was cut off by Etisalat - hadn't paid the bill, my fault, mea culpa and all that. Paid the bill and waited to be reconnected - happened a day later.

2 weekends ago, Thursday evening (remember our weekend is Friday/Saturday) arrives - no internet. Phone to complain, now Etisalat's techie people are usually pretty good, they couldn't get me back on - told me that it looked to them as if I was connected and they couldn't find a fault, they would get an engineer out to check the line.

Sometime during Saturday connection comes back. Sunday an Etisalat engineer wants to come and check the line, I tell him the line is fixed.

This weekend. Thursday morning - no connection. Thursday afternoon when I get home from work - no connection. Phone call to Etisalat's techie people - same result - can't find a fault, get an engineer out.

Off all day Friday, off all day Saturday, off Sunday morning.

Sunday an engineer phones Mrs Dubaibilly - wants to get in the house - no says Mrs DB (remember we have got a cat that is worth more than I am) you should have warned us that you were coming. Engineer says no probs, I will check the line outside and if I still need to get in I will let you know. Never phoned again.

Sunday evening - no connection.

Monday morning - connected again.

Now look, I'm not knocking Etisalat here. I don't know what is happening.

I've got a mac - perhaps it doesn't talk to the linksys wireless thing at weekends, perhaps the linksys wireless thing doesn't talk to Etisalat at weekends.

I dunno.

But I'm getting a bit hacked off about it.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Isn't Google Wonderful!

I have been hard at work all week - it came as a shock!

School finished on December 17th and started again on January 13th. We were in for 1 day then we had George Bush day (a day off, read about it lower down the blog here, if you don't know about it), then back to work for a day (15th January) then two days off for the rain (here) then it was the weekend! No repeat this week though - 5 days at work this week, gosh it has come hard! You get out of practice.

Anyway that's part of the reason I haven't blogged much this week, but only part of it.

Do you remember these pictures:

Skopelitan blooms


For Thea

Well, Thea and keefiboy and Marion and her husband Pip (who is a gardener) all questioned the reality or otherwise of my photographs!

So, and this is where the title of the post comes in - I've been doing various google image searches trying to find some way of verifying that these flowers are not a figment of my Photoshop.

Eventually I searched for bi-color flowers (yes, I know, color should have a u in it but, I guess when you want the search to be successful you spell things wrong! About 30 or so pages of images later I found a single coloured flower that looked like mine. It is called Mirabilis Jalapa so I did an image search on that and on page five I found this:

Park Seeds Co

on the Park Seed Co website. Whilst the posh name is Mirabilis Jalapa, it is apparently more commonly known as 4-O'Clock Broken Colors, (broken colors for obvious reasons and 4 o'clock because that is the time in the evening when the flowers open - apparently).

Thank you Bridget who did believe me!

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Thinking of Skopelos 3

A few more pix of Skopelos and then I'll change the subject for a while!

The Parallea

This is the Parallea (I'm not sure about the spelling of that - perhaps Marion will correct it when she next pops in). This is the road that runs along the harbour (well, you can see that), in amongst the trees on the right are most of the tavernas, these are lovely places to while away the afternoon, drinking Mythos, playing backgammon, people watching or chatting with friends and they are also good places to sit in the evening having dinner and enjoying watching the world go by.

Skopelos Harbour at Night

This is looking to the Parallea at night from the port. The very bright place on the right of the photo higher up than sea level is Vraxos Bar, it's a great cocktail bar with probably the best views in town. That is where I took the first photo from and is about 150 metres from home.

Skopelos Street

And this is one of the beautiful little streets that make up Skopelos Town.

For Thea

I've put this photo in especially for Thea who thought I may have used Photoshop in the photo of the yellow and pink flower in Thinking about Skopelos. I promise you Thea, this is real, these flowers come out on a bush just around the corner from my house, they only come out at night so I had to use flash photography to get this and to be honest, I don't think it is a particularly good photo because it is slightly out of focus, but it is there just for you!

Having said that, I have to admit that one of my posts contains a flower which may have been photoshopped a bit! ;-)

Bolton V Newcastle

If you know anything about English football, or if you have watched any British news programme (like Sky News for instance) or read a British newspaper recently you cannot fail to have noticed that Newcastle United have got themselves a new manager - or to be more exact, an old one. I'm sick to death of hearing about it - The Return of The King - King Kev is back - The Return of The Messiah (YES, this was said on Sky News!) All because bloody Kevin Keegan has joined Newcastle for the second time as a manager and for the third time in his career.

And who got to play Newcastle Utd in their first Premier League match since his appointment. Well, that honour (for surely it must have been a great honour for lowly Bolton to be allowed on the same pitch as the great man's team) fell to Bolton Wanderers. There role in the Second Coming? Why none other than to roll over and play dead so that all the prophecies about the great and glorious Mr Keegan can start coming true immediately.

Well tough titty Mr Keegan, they didn't follow the script! They didn't win, but they didn't lose either and, to be honest I would have accepted a draw before the match! I watched the match on ShowTime Arabia over here in the Emirates and got sick of hearing the commentator telling me how much Newcastle deserved to win - it reminded me of the time Bolton were supposed to lose to West Ham and get relegated but didn't play fair, they won and West Ham got relegated instead. The media have never forgiven us for that and now, having the gall to rain on Mr Keegan's parade, well! How very dare they?

Jlloyd Samuel shot on target from about 4 yards out in the last minute or so and the ball hit Shay Given and went out for a corner - Given knew little or nothing about it - if that had gone in I think the media would have demanded a rematch! Ah well, Fulham at home next - we need three points from that one!

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Thinking of Skopelos 2

OK, so what about the sights? Well, speaking personally (and I can because it's my blog) I think Skopelos is absolutely beautiful! The town is the standard idea of a Greek Island town, white washed houses with coloured shutters and doors and red or slate roofs, built up the hillside and looking down on the tavernas that line the harbour.

Skopelos Harbour

This panoramic view taken from Panagitsou Tou Pirgo (which is the church overlooking the harbour) looks pretty much west and takes in the whole harbour.

From Mount Palouki

This view is taken from Mount Palouki overlooking the Monatery of the Transfiguration with Skopelos Town in the distance. You can see the hairpin bends on the road up and they can be quite hairy when you are two up on a little scooter, especially when you haven't ridden a motor bike for years! As you can see, Skopelos Island is not typically Greek in that it is covered in trees from shore to shore with many beaches shaded by fragrant pine trees.


And this is our home.

I'll put some more pix of Skopelos up later.

Thinking About Skopelos

I have been spending some time trawling through my photographs on my hard drive recently, and whenever I do that I always look at my photo's taken on Skopelos. I guess it is a bit odd that a blog called "Waiting for Skopelos" has virtually nothing about Skopelos on it. What I've decided to do, then is rectify this so that you, dear reader, can see something of the island that will be my home.

As you are already aware, I get a lot of enjoyment out of taking close-up photographs of flowers, so, before I show you some pictures of Skopelos itself, I though I would put up some of the flower photo's I have taken there. Now, at the moment I only go there in July and August so the photo's are limited to flowers that are out in that season:

A Humming Bird Moth Feeding

I'm sure that Humming Bird Moths exist elsewhere, but I have only ever seen them on Skopelos. These were taken in the garden of the Monastery of Aghia Barbara on Mt Palouki

A Humming Bird Moth Feeding

Bougainvillea abounds allover the island


And is one of the few flowers that I can actually name!

Skopelitan blooms

I have only ever seen these beautiful flowers on Skopelos and its neighbouring island, Alonnisos. There are also white and pink ones that only come out at night.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Baggins 3

Snaz asked about Baggins' name, so I thought I'd tell you about him.

His name is (as in Bilbo and Frodo) taken from Tolkein (The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings). We got him from the Silmarilion Cattery and as any Tolkein fan will tell you, The Silmarillion is Tolkein's History of Middle Earth. All their cats have names taken from Tolkein's fantasy world.

Now, when we first ordered a cat from this particular cattery, I knew nothing about the name of the cattery (Mrs Dubaibilly did all the ordering) or about their method of naming their cats - I just saw a picture of the cat we were going to get and suggested we called him Gandalf (as in Gandalf Grey Beard to give Gandalf his full name). Mrs DB agreed. Unfortunately, just before Gandalf came to us he fell ill and the owner of the cattery decided not to sell him and gave us the choice of other kittens. We decided on one, but Mrs DB refused to have this one called Gandalf so I suggested Baggins and once again she agreed.

When I found out the name of the cattery I was very surprised! I hadn't expected that characters from my favourite book would be amongst the pedigree names of cats in an Italian cattery!

Baggins pedigree name is Silmarilion Nenuail (Nenuail meaning Sunset's Lake) and this is what he looked like as a kitten.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Baggins 2

Mrs Dubaibilly and I are cat lovers. We have a beautiful Rag Doll cat called Baggins and, periodically I will put pictures of him up here for you.

As you know, we recently moved apartments. In the old place we had windows which opened outwards and so were not able to have them open very much because we didn't want Baggins jumping out of them. Our new windows have sliding windows with bug screens which are much better because we can have them open whenever we want - even when we are out - without having to worry about whether Baggins will still be here when we get back.

Baggins at the window

As you can see, Baggins is interested in what is going on outside (it was still raining when I took this and he doesn't know what rain is!) Perhaps I ought to move the sofa a bit closer to the window so that it isn't such a stretch for him!

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

The Rain in Spain

Falls mainly on the plain
The rain in Dubai
Does not go down the drain!

It is raining - persistently - hard! Why blog about it? It doesn't rain often here and invariably makes news when it does. Last year it did a good job of washing the Dubai 7's out (not for the players, of course) - this year it has reached new heights (at least as far as I am concerned). I'm now in my eleventh year in Dubai and this is the first time I have ever known the schools to close because of the weather. But yes, ladies and gentlemen, I kid you not, rain has stopped play! Tomorrow my school is closed because of the rain and I just happen to know that mine is not the only school thus affected!

view from the window

This is the view from my bedroom window - rain is notoriously difficult to photograph, pictures of puddles are often the easiest way to do it - another is wait until it goes dark and use a flash but of course you then have difficulty with focus.

Car Park Entrance

This is the main route into and out of the car park where I live - fortunately we don't park and then have to walk through this to get home!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Sheikh Zayed Road (as you've never seen it before)

The authorities have declared today a public holiday in Dubai. Why? Because today is the day that President Bush comes to town. They have closed lots of roads, including one of the busiest roads in the world!

I live just next to SZR and took a walk down there to get these pix:

SZR to Dubai

This is Sheikh Zayed Road looking toward Dubai - as you can see the weather is atrocious - grey leaden skies and a gentle but persistent falling of cool rain. But to see SZR like this, with not a car in sight is amazing!

SZR to Abu Dhabi

This is looking the other way towards Abu Dhabi and the bridge you can see is the Safa Park interchange.

Of course, under normal circumstances, standing in the middle of the second lane of six northbound lanes of traffic on SZR would have rendered me quite dead, so whilst I do not claim that these photographs are unique, I do not expect to ever be able to get them again! I wanted to go onto the bridge to take my photo's but the CID wouldn't let me on there - just as well they didn't catch me stood in the middle of the road taking these!

Singing In The Rain

I wouldn't normally put pictures of people in my blog but I was happy to seek permission from one of my colleagues to post this, taken as she cavorted in the middle of Sheikh Zayed Road.

Sunday, 13 January 2008


Guess what - I'm going to Barcelona on a course. Good eh, from the 31st January to the 3rd of Feb. I've never been to Barcelona and I'm looking forward to it. Shame it's not a bit later in the month, it would have been nice to sneak a flight to Madrid to watch the Wanderers play Atletico Madrid - oh well, can't have everything I suppose!

Bolton Wanderers v Blackburn

So, we play our 6-fingered cousins tonight (if any Rovers fans should happen to have strayed onto this blog, you know it is all said in jest). This is an important game for both teams. Rovers are beginning to open up a bit of a gap and three points for them tonight will put them up into eighth. On the other hand, three points to us will make us feel a lot more secure as we move up to thirteenth (especially as we have a bit of a difficult month coming up in March.

Bolton have just sold our top goal scorer Nicholas Anelka to Chelsea for 15 million pounds but we haven't yet managed to splash any cash on a replacement. So who is going to score the goals?

I dunno. I think it will be a dour, hard fought match - but I'm going for a Bolton win, 2 - 0. All three points and thirteenth in the league.

Good Ole Dubya

So Georgieboy continues his Middle East trip with a visit to Dubai tomorrow.

The powers that be have declared the day a public and private holiday! This means that the whole of this city shuts down because George Bush is in town!

"So, what do you think of Dubai, Mr President?"

"Well, it's cold, it rains a lot and there's almost no traffic in the whole place!"

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Let Them Eat Cake! 2

OK. the cake is ready and Mrs DB just brought me a hot slice to try. Being brave I didn't take a little nibble, I took a fairly standard sized mouthful. It tasted like banana loaf to me.

"OK", I said, "it tastes fine what have you put in it?"

"What do you think?"

"I dunno"

"I put almond essence in it instead of vanilla essence."

Wot! Like I'm supposed to notice that! I mean, what are we talking about here - 2 or so drops of something that has been in the cupboard since about 1873 and probably doesn't taste of anything anyway. I'm just happy to have some cake!

Possibly Not The Best Start to 2008

I've waited a while before I wrote this particular article 'cos it bloody annoys me!

We got back from South Africa in the early hours of last Saturday (Jan 5th). On Sunday morning Mrs Dubaibilly was due back at work but I don't go back until tomorrow (Sunday the 13th).

So the morning of Sunday the 6th of Jan saw me driving Mrs DB to work as I needed the car that day. It was about 20 past 8 and Mrs DB said something about needing to get in early as there would be loads to do.

~ a bit of background for you: Mrs DB was offered the opportunity to start a brand new travel agency up in Dubai about 3 years ago. Since then she has worked ridiculous hours (often 7:30 am to 7:30 pm) trying to make this venture work. The agency now has 4 full time travel consultants, an accountant, a driver and a turnover of 8.5 million dirhams per year and is growing. ~

So, as I said, she was keen to get in and get started. About 10 am she called me and I could tell that she was very upset. The two owners of the company (a guy from New Zealand and his English wife) called her into the boardroom and told her they were closing the company and wanted everybody out by the 20th of January when the got back from their skiing trip.

No thank you for trying.

No sorry.

No fucking nothing.

Just we are closing and want everyone gone by the time we get back from our skiing holiday.

Nice people, eh.

Mrs Dubaibilly, at the tender age of 57 is now looking for work and our home in Skopelos hangs on her getting it.

Sam Allardyce and Nicholas Anelka

I haven't blogged for a couple of days and lots of interesting things have happened in the English Premier League. Sam Allardyce has been sacked by Newcastle United.

Now OK, you know I am a Bolton Wanderers supporter - and I know that you probably had little interest in footy before you became a Bolton Wanderers supporter by proxy, but you need to get up to speed here - why am I interested in the sacking of Newcastle's manager?

Well, until two matches before the end of last season Sam Allardyce was Bolton's manager and had been since 19 October 1999, nineteen months later Sam had guided Bolton Wanderers into the Premier League and there they have stayed!

The split between the Wanderers and Sam was, how can I put this, not so much acrimonious but mistifying - I don't understand why he left with just two games to go; having gone, giving the reason that he needed a break from football, two weeks later he became Newcastle manager saying that two weeks was long enough. When he became Newcastle's manager he said he would not be raiding his old club for players or back-room staff and then he did.

Some Bolton supporters are glad that he has been sacked at Newcastle and feel he deserves it - I can't subscribe to that, he did an awful lot for Bolton and I, for one, wish him well - and I think Newcastle United's board are very short-sighted in coming to this decision.

The other big event is that Bolton have sold Nicholas Anelka to Chelsea for 15 million quid. It's OK having that much money but we have just sold our top goalscorer and we have a game against Blackburn tomorrow and we could do with getting some goals. I hope the board spend the money improving the team, but, come the end of January the transfer window closes and clubs are not allowed to buy anyone else until the season ends in May. If we haven't got ourselves someone who can score goals by the end of January we could easily find ourselves dropping out of the Premier League by May - 15 million quid in the bank will be scant consolation.

Let Them Eat Cake!

So, here I am, sat at my computer, trying to get the heading of the blog to look how I want it (with help from keefiboy in Madrid) when Mrs Dubaibilly comes in and announces, "Well, that's the cake done." To explain, we had some bananas that are a bit over ripe and so Mrs DB decided to make banana bread - so far so good. She followed up her announcement with, "If it tastes strange you don't have to eat it, only it's got an extra ingredient that I didn't mean to put in. You never know you might like it like that and then always want it the same way."

"What have you put in it?", I asked.

"No," she answered, "see if you recognise it, oh by the way, where do you keep this?"

This was a tub of ready mixed patching plaster.

Surely she hasn't ...

Watch this space, it could be anything, we are talking here about the woman who once made steamed fish in parsley sauce with coriander instead of parsley - that was a triumph!

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Warning - Image May Have Been Photoshopped!

This year's entry into the highly prestigious "You've Got Too Much Time On Your Hands, Mate" competition and the International "The Camera Never Lies, Honest" Award is:

Rainbow Flower
Obviously this entry was snapped in the Rainbow Nation


Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Some More Flower Photo's

I hope you don't mind, but I thought I would share some more of my flower pics with you. These are low resolution photos, 72 pixels per inch and 317 pixels x 317 pixels. The high res versions I have are 508 pixels per inch and 15000 x15000 pixels - that is why I can enlarge them to 75cm x 75cm (much larger than the original flower) with no pixelation. And all thanks to that most wonderful of programmes - Photoshop. Good eh!

Flower 1
I really do think this is beautiful - I should know what kind of flower it is, but I can't remember - I could ask Mrs Dubaibilly when she comes home I suppose, I know she knows this one. The trouble is, rather like me she is not all that good at flower names.
Update - I am now very much indebted to Bridget who tells me that the pink one is a hibiscus. I have checked that with Mrs Dubaibilly who confirms that it is indeed a hibiscus and in fact is probably a double hibiscus - many thanks Bridget and Mrs Dubaibilly.

Flower 2
I suppose this has got to be some kind of a daisy - but I don't know what kind!
OK, I am told that this is an Osteospermum, also known as a Cape Daisy and that the wasp on it is a hoverfly - many thanks to Toffeeapple for that information.
Flower 3
OK, strictly speaking it isn't a flower - even I know that! What I don't know is what it is and what I do know is that it is beautiful (at least it is to me.) Apparently this is a verigated bougainvillea for which name I have to thank Jin

Flower 4
And this is just gorgeous.

Now in my previous flower post I have, from the top, some kind of orchid, a rose (though I have no idea what kind of rose) and an Agapanthus - ha! bet you're impressed now - with some kind of insect that looks like a wasp (but probably isn't) on it. So, if you can tell me any of their names (common or posh latin) I will a) be very grateful, b) name them and c) credit you with the naming of them.


I might put some more up later.

A Question For Any More Experienced Bloggers Who May Be Reading

How do I make the text under the main heading on this blog go to the right of the picture instead of going over it?

Monday, 7 January 2008

A Photographic Hobby

About a year ago Mrs Dubaibilly bought me a 70 -300 mm zoom lens with macro capability to go with my Canon 400 D camera. I've always liked photography and now I'm able to indulge myself in some macro photography. If you don't know, macro photography is close-up photography.

What I like to do is take macro photographs of flowers with the highest resolution possible on my camera. The art of this kind of photography lies in a) getting the focus right and b) getting the depth of field right. Neither are as easy as when taking normal shots. Of course, this being digital photography I can, like everyone else, take hundreds of shots and choose the odd one that I manage to get right!

Anyway, having taken the photographs I then like to go on Photoshop and massively increase the file size, crop the photographs to 75 x 75 cm, print them on canvas at full size (no, I don't actually do that bit myself - I know a place that does it out here at a reasonable price), internally frame them and hang them on the wall.

I have 3 on the wall in Skopelos and I am going to print some of the ones I took in SA to hang on the wall here.

It wouldn't be fair to tell you all that and not show you some examples, so I've resized some of them (from 75 cm square to little) so that they will fit on your screen and won't take three months to load - I hope you like them and I am sure, if you wanted a full sized canvas version we could come to some sort of deal!




So What Did You Do Over The Holidays, Then?

Oh yeah, I've been back a few days now and all I've really done is moan about the journeys and the immigration officers. I haven't mentioned the holiday at all.

OK, Mrs Dubaibilly and I went to Cape Town to spend Christmas and New Year with Mrs DB's family. Now that suits me just fine, because I do like my in-laws very much indeed. It isn't the first time we have been there, in fact Mrs DB has taken me there so many times that we no longer feel the need to do the "tourist bit" - so you are not going to get a load of touristy snaps of South Africa. In fact, on this trip we didn't even go into Cape Town. The family live in two locations, Somerset West and Langebaan (Google them if you really want to know more).

During our stay we basically stayed at home, ate too much, drank too much and rested! Which is what we needed - I know, it isn't very exciting for you, dear reader, but that is what we did.

Of course, I indulged myself in one of my hobbies (photography) and I can share some of the results. I did a bit of black and white photography (it's a long time since I've done that! back in the early 70's I think). Just behind Renee and Aksel's place are the Helderburg mountains and there were some amazing cloud formations - the clouds seem to cling to the mountains and flow down them:

Clouds Over The HelderburgsClouds Over The Helderburgs 2

It is, of course, only my opinion, but I think they are quite spectacular. I also quite like this (back into colour again, which is a view looking towards Strand from Somerset West at sunset:

Sunset Over Strand

As you can see, we go some pretty moody weather! But it wasn't all clouds - we went up to stay with Mrs Dubaibilly's brother in Langebaan, and, as you can see, the weather was delightful:

Langebaan Lagoon
Langebaan Yacht Club Slipway

The bottom photo is the slipway at Langebaan Yacht Club - anyone who knows the Yacht Club could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps something is wrong - there should be a lamp post and the back of a Give Way sign in the photo - and aren't there one or two bushes too many... What is the point of having Photoshop if you can't take ugly obstructions out of the picture?

Finally, just outside Stellenbosch, with Mrs DB driving at 100 kph, I though this made a lovely photo:


Sunday, 6 January 2008

The Holiday Season Fixtures 2

OK, so it didn't all go exactly to plan! I expected us to lose to Everton - check back, you will see that this is true - but I was disappointed to come away from the Stadium of Light with no points against struggling Sunderland, especially as they were on the back of a 4 - 0 hiding by Man U. Losing that game 3 - 1 was a tad hard to swallow. Never mind, January 2nd saw the last match of the festive season and we entertained Derby County at home - they are on the bottom of the league and we should have had no trouble dispatching them - well, we won, but the question must be asked - is a 1 - 0 home win against the bottom club in the league, with the goal scored in injury time in the 2nd half the kind of form which we need to keep us in the Premier League this season?

I hope things improve somewhat - though given that we lost 1 - 0 at home to Sheffield United in the FA Cup yesterday, things look a bit bleak at the moment.

Ah well, we are at home to our 6-fingered cousins from Blackburn on Sunday - we really could do with 3 points from that match.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Immigration Officers - Don't You Just Love 'em?

Do they train these people to be as stupid and ignorant as possible or are they just born that way?

So we arrive in Jo'burg - it had been a long flight and we still had to get down to Cape Town, but if you enter the country at Jo'burg that is where you go through immigration, we walked into the immigration hall and separated - Mrs Dubai is South African, I'm not. Mrs Dubaibilly joins a queue of about 30 to 40 people for which there were 12 immigration officers - very efficient I hear you say. I join a queue of about 3 to 4 hundred people and how many immigration officers did we have? Four. They had a single queue system - until you got to the front and then it changed into 4 separate queues, one for each immigration officer - unbelievable. I joined a particular queue and got to second place in that only to have a roving immigration officer (who's job appeared to be to cause chaos) inform me that I was queueing in the wrong place and demand that I queue up like everyone else - even though I'd spent about three quarters of an hour getting to where I was - I joined one of the three remaining queues behind several people who should have been behind me and she seemed satisfied.

Leaving the country was just as bad:

We joined a queue, at a particular point me, Mrs DB and about 5 other people where told by and immigration official to "Come this way please", "I don't have a Diplomatic passport", "It doesn't matter, come this way!" OK we went that way, walked to the little box and another roving immigration official said "Do you people have Diplomatic passports?". "No but we were sent this way". "No you weren't, go back and join the queue".

How do you deal with people like this? This is the country that is going to have several hundred thousand football fans from all over the world descend upon it in June 2010 for the World Cup and they can't handle a little queue. Perhaps some serious training is required in between now and then!

Into the Knock-Out Phase 2

You see, that will just teach me not to anticipate results - I thought Panathinaikos had won their group but I was wrong! In fact Athletico Madrid won that particularly and so Bolton Wanderers get to play Atletico Madrid on a home and away basis in the knock-out stage of the Uefa Cup. The first leg takes place at the Reebok Stadium on Wednesday 13 Feb and the second leg takes place in Spain on Thursday 21 Feb. My mate keefieboy lives in Madrid and will probably go to that!

Atletico Madrid are currently 5th in the Spanish Primera Liga whilst Bolton are 14th in the Premier League - nothing in it, it should be a good match and I think we will shade it.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedy-jig

Half past 2 this morning - that's when we went to bed! We got up at 4:45 yesterday morning! And in between we travelled - and travelled - and then we travelled some more!

It's noon here in Dubai as I sit typing this - I don't know about you, but I'm knackered - Mrs Dubaibilly is in bed with a headache. Why do we do this? Why do we put our minds and bodies through the abuse of travelling - oh, don't get me wrong, it was great spending Christmas and New Year with the in-laws (yes, I do like my in-laws) - but getting there and then getting back!!!! Ye gods, when is somebody going to invent a teleporter for goodness sake!

I've just read the post I posted prior to leaving (BTW, thanks for the comments Bridget) and I got it almost exactly right! The only thing I missed out was the 17 mile walk from International arrivals at Jo'burg to domestic departures - yeah, alright, it isn't 17 miles, but it isn't far short! I challenge anyone to get off an international flight in Jo'burg, collect your bags, clear customs and Immigration*, walk with two suitcases, a pull along cabin bag and a wife to the domestic terminal, have a quick trip to the loo, check in for your flight because the bozo's on Dubai check in wouldn't check you right through, find your boarding gate and catch your flight, and do it with less than 4 hours between flights - I do not believe it can be done! And if you have kids with you or are disabled - forget, you would be better off over-nighting in Jo'burg and continuing your journey the next day (or alternatively not going).

Coming back wasn't much fun either - we arrived at Cape Town airport at 6 am only to find the queues for check-in were right out of the door! We were on a domestic flight and so only had to check-in one hour prior to departure - Yeah right - 15 minutes before departure we were still in the queue to check-in! Not the best start! But the plane waited for us (and a few others) - then it waited for our baggage - then it waited some more - then the Captain must have got pissed off waiting 'cos he decided to go anyway! Then we got delayed in Jo'burg - our flight to Nairobi was delayed by an hour. Then we had to run through Nairobi airport (nothing to do with the troubles there, we just had to run to catch our next flight), then we got held up in a stack waiting to get into Dubai - then, to the accompaniment of a look of stunned surprise on the face of Dubaibilly, our baggage arrived!!! Then we went home!

One bit of light relief - we have an e-gate in Dubai (for those of you not fortunate enough to have one of these, it is a sort of electronic immigration officer - you put your e-card on a reader enter the gate, scan your finger print, wait for the gate to open again and continue on your way - all very easy, incredibly fast and hassle free! So why where the e-gate queues as long as the queues for ordinary immigration? Mrs Dubaibilly went to investigate and found some other e-gates with not many people at all at them and bade me join her there. Across I went and found people scanning their card, entering the gate, failing to scan their fingerprint and exiting the e-gate the way they had come in and then trying again! Mr and Mrs DB watched this process for a few seconds and offered to "have a go" (as you do). Scanned our cards, entered the gate, scanned our fingerprints and exited the gate (on the right side). Mrs Dubaibilly was smugly explaining to people which finger needs to be scanned whilst I, even more smugly, walked away saying to Mrs Dubaibilly "Come on, Gal, if they can't remember which finger they had scanned into the system originally that is their problem not yours". (Or words to that effect). Cheered me up no end that did.

*Watch this space on that lot.