Thursday, 24 July 2008

Photoshop Talent

Take a look at the side bar, under "Other places that I like to visit regularly" is an entry for "PST - Photoshop Talent - competitions and lots of Tutorials".

Now, this is how the competitions work, they have three levels "Advanced", "All users" and "Beginners" (Beginners means beginner to PST not necessarily to Photoshop. I sometimes have a go at the comps if a I feel inspired by the competition and b I can find the time.

The last competition I entered was called Tropical Bird and was a photograph of a toucan in a cage - the object was to work with the photograph and Photoshop to produce something different. I have a photo of a log reflected in a river that I took a few years ago in Malaysia. I extracted the toucan from the original photo and put it into my own photo and called the composition Freebird. I am dead chuffed 'cos I came second! The highest I have ever finished in a PST comp.

Please take a moment to visit the competition here.

The first photo on there is the original, the second photo is the one which won the comp and the third photo is mine.

Cape town Update

Well, I hadn't intended blogging any more from KaapStaad, but here I am - what does this indicate?

A. I'm a sad git who can't stay away from his blog?
B. I'm a lucky git 'cos Mrs DB is shopping and I have been given the freedom of not trolling round every shop in Somerset Mall (providing I promise to stay in the internet cafe where she can find me when she has finished!)

So, what has been happening - not a right lot to be honest, Mrs DB and I are having a very well deserved rest!

Uncle Sam, unfortunately is still in hospital - he had his right leg amputated just below the knee yesterday afternoon. God, diabetes is a bastard of a disease. Anyway, he is very weak at the moment and is fairly well zonked on the pain killers that they are feeding him from an intraveinous drip. So, if you are the praying type, please say one for Uncle Sam. The surgeion saw him this morning and pronounced himself satisfied that the op had gone well. He has to go back into theatre on Friday or Saturday to have the wound sewn up and should (hopefully) be on the mend after that.

Saturday is the big day ... Aunty Beeb and Uncle Sam's 50th wedding anniversary, so Me, Mrs DB, Aunty Beeb, Cousins Hinge and Bracket and husbands and offspring are going to go to the hospital en masse and have a quiet celebration in Uncle Sam's room (and who cares what the doctor and nurses think!)

Mrs DB and I are going to take Aunty Beeb out for dinner tonight, we are going to a place called Cattle Baron. Don't follow the link if you are a vegitarian! That is something to look forward to and should take Aunty Beeb's mind of her problems for a few hours.

Right, now last time I was blogging I said I had another entry to write, but then Mrs DB turned up before I could get started, so I will stop this entry now and get on with the other one!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

On Holiday in Cape Town

Well, not exactly Cape Town, we are in a little town just outside of CT - a place called Somerset West which is close to Stellenbosch (yep, where the wine comes from).

God, it is cold down here! Clear blue skies, plenty of sunshine, windy and bloody cold, especially when you are out of the sun. Of course, the locals are wandering around in shorts and T-shirts as if it is the middle of summer - well, it's alright for them, they haven't just flown in from Dubai where the temperature is in the 40's with shedfulls (or should that be shedsful) of humidity.

Anyway, plaudits to Emirates Airline. Brilliant flight down here. Now those who have known me for some time will be aware that I am not shy about criticising Emirates and I am certainly not their biggest fan, but I have to give credit where it is due... the trip down here was probably the best flight I have been on for ages!

Check in at Dubai was dead easy - no hassle whatsoever. Breakfast in the Irish Village at the airport was a bit fraught - the waiters were rushed off their feet 'cos the place was so busy, but I guess I can live with that, at least I got breakfast. The boarding was no problem - we even got to put our baggage in the correct overhead locker (not always that easy, in my experience). The plane was about 5 minutes late taking off... let's face it, boys and girls, 5 minutes late is comparitively early for a flight getting off these days. It arrived in Cape Town a full HOUR early! I watched two movies (couldn't possibly tell you anything about either of them because neither was particularly memorable... one of them had Nic Cage as some kind of a treasure hunter - it was like a low budget Raiders of the Lost Ark - I have not idea what the other was about. Mrs DB and I played each other at backgammon on the inflight entertainment system - that is great that you can play games against somone else on the flight (small things...). The food was reasonable - don't get me wrong, it wasn't lip-smacking great or anything, but it was OK. All in all a pleasant flight - so thank you to Emirates Airlines.

We arrived at Cape Town and went quickly and smoothly through immigration, which was an improvement on my previous experience of South African Immigration officials. The lady was very pleasant. By the time we were through immigration the bags were already going round the carousel - brilliant. I guess it took about 30 mins from landing to exiting the airport. Very impressive. Well done Cape Town International Airport.

So, why are we in Cape Town and not Skopelos?

Well, avid readers will be aware that Mrs DB's aunt and uncle are going to be celebrating their Golden Wedding Anniversary this coming weekend (the 26th of July), so we came to celebrate with them.

So, names changed to proctect the innocent as usual - Uncle Sam and Aunty Beeb, counsins Hinge and Brackett and their respective husbands and offspring (is offspring one of those words like "sheep" that is both singular and plural, 'cos offsprings doesn't look right... in fact I think I will change it. There, that's better) are the relly's down here, so now you will know who I mean if any of them get a mention.

So, Aunty Beeb and Brackett's husband picked us up at the airport and transported us round to Somerset West, where we found Uncle Sam ill in bed. Very ill. Uncle Sam has had problems for a while now, he had the toes of his right foot amputated in June and has been struggling to recover. I really do think that it has been touch and go since then and I was quite shocked to see how ill he looked. He did manage to get up for a little while, half an hour or so to have a chat with us, but, the effort was way too much for him. The problem is that he isn't eating and his resistance is very low. Everyone is trying to help but nothing seems to be working.

The next morning saw Uncle Sam looking a bit brighter, and once again he got up and came to sit and chat with us - once again this was really too much for him and within half an hour he went back to bed. Later on we went to sit in his room and we all watched the British Open - he seemed to enjoy it.

On Monday he was supposed to go to see the surgeon to see how his foot was healing - sadly he was in a terrible state and there was no way we could take him to the surgeon, we ended up having to get an ambulance and now Uncle Sam is back in hospital. He was looking much better last night when we visited - I think the anti-biotics he had been taking were not working properly and his wound had become infected. They had him on an anti-biotic drip yesterday and that seemed to have kicked in. Today he has to have an op to have the wound cleaned up - I don't think he is looking forward to it. The nurse said this op is "no big deal" - easy for her to say, she isn't the one having it! Anyway, we are all hoping that he recovers, but I don't think he will be out of hospital before Mrs DB and I leave. Poor Aunty Beeb is frantic.

So we went round to the other cousin (Hinge) last night and had a very pleasant evening eating cold take-away pizza and drinking delightful wine by a roaring log fire - what a great night! See, life goes on.

We are out shopping now - or at least Mrs DB is - she has parked me off in the internet cafe while she shops! At least it gives me chance to write this.

I do have another entry to make, which I shall do in a minute and then I think that will probably be it until we get to Skopelos.

I'm just going to read through this before I post it...

I forgot to tell you, (you'll love this) - we went to some cheap clothes shop and bought fleecy tracksuits - I got two, one orange and one yellow, but the yellow top turned out to be a different colour of yellow than the trousers! So, I have split the two and wear either a yellow jacket with orange trousers or an orange jacket with yellow trousers - not haute couture to be sure - but great for lounging round the house with. Once I get back to Dubai (15 August) I promise I will post a picture of me in this ridiculous garb!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Nearly Holiday Time

Well, it is Wednesday morning, not long to go! Getting excited now!

We are off on Saturday morning - first down to Cape Town for 10 days (we are going to a Golden Wedding Anniversary celebration... Does anyone know what you buy as a gift for a couple who have been married for 50 years? I don't think I have ever known a couple who have reached such a milestone! Well other than the couple whose GWA we are going to CT for!)

Then, after CT we make the big journey:

Cape Town > Dubai >Athens >Skopelos.

This journey starts on the 28th of July and finishes on the 30th of July, Cape Town to Dubai is about 10 hours, Dubai to Athens is about 5 hours, Athens to Skopelos is about 7 hours. How much fun is that going to be?

Please note that the last question was rhetorical!

Sadly, we will only be on our island home for two weeks and then it is back to Dubai to start work again as both of us start on the 17th August!

I don't think I will blog from Cape Town, but I probably will blog from Skopelos - once I have woken up after the journey!

Friday, 11 July 2008

Another coulis

You may recall that I made a delicious raspberry and blackberry coulis (get the recipe here), well today Mrs DB and I are going to do the same thing, but with peaches. This time though, instead of the vodka we are going to put in just a single measure of whisky. Should be good!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


I've been lurking on a blog in the UK for about 6 weeks now and have decided that it is time to put it on my list. This is another one that I found, indirectly, from jin.

So, follow this link and drop in on the regulars at the Merrie Monk Pub somewhere in Leicestershire (I think). Tuesday is a good day to go, 'cos John puts jokes up on a Tuesday and you don't have to know the locals to enjoy the joke.

Monday, 7 July 2008


11 Years ago - give or take a month - I arrived in the United Arab Emirates. I went to live in Ras Al Khaimah, a little industrial town in the north of the country. A town not entirely unlike Bolton, but with sunshine!

About a year later, I decided that I really ought to stop driving on my British licence and get an Emirati driving licence. So I did. It wasn't a big deal, I had just been too lazy to actually go and get it.

Another year passed and I moved to Dubai, where I have lived and worked ever since.

My driving licence has now expired and I have not got any less lazy... It expired about two weeks ago and, eventually, yesterday I went to the Roads, Trains and Automobiles shop to get a replacement.

So, I walked in, the very helpful young man looked at me (which I took to mean "Good morning, sir, may I help you").

"I'd like to renew my driving licence please".

He held out is hand presumably to take the licence - this guy has definitely not been to charm school.

"This is Ras Al Khaimah licence", he said giving it back to me.

"Yes," said I, "and I'd like to renew it with a Dubai one please".

"You renew this in Ras Al Khaimah."

"But I don't live there, I live here, in Dubai and have done for 9 years."

"You renew this in Ras Al Khaimah."


"You have Dubai residency?"

"Yes." Ahh, now we are getting somewhere, the guy is going to try and be helpful.

"You need no objections letter to transfer your licence to Dubai."

"OK, no problem, where do I get this no objections letter from?"

"Ras Al Khaimah!"

"Thanks, bye."

I wonder how long I can get away with driving without a licence?

There are times when I think Dis-united should be the first word in this country's name!

Friday, 4 July 2008

A new Skopelos site

Kat emailed me this morning with a new site all about Skopelos that she had found. It is the University of Florida School of Art and Art History at the Skopelos Foundation for the Arts - you may be interested in checking out some artists impressions of the island Mrs DB and I choose to call home. You can find them here

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Don't You Just Love It When They Change The Rules!

So I went to renew my e-gate card this morning. Now, this is not the first time I have done this, this will be my third e-gate card.

So this morning I got my passport and photocopied it - details page and residence visa page and walked to Dnata. I live next door... about 750 metres away, not far except it is around 40 C at the moment.

So in I goes and sits myself down and the lady says, "Do you have your original passport?". Now the temptation to say, "No, I no longer have that one, the one I have is my fourth." was great, but I decided against it and instead said, "Don't you mean a photocopy of my passport?"

"No," she said, "We have changed the rules, now you need your original passport."

So I walked home and now have to walk back again clutching my passport. My 4th passport. I really do hope she doesn't mean original when she says original.

What Was it?

This wonderful little device is... a garlic peeler.

You place a clove of garlic in it. Roll it a couple of times on a flat surface and it takes the skin off the garlic. And it works brilliantly.

So huge kudos goes to CaliforniaKat who was the first to get it right and not quite so huge kudos goes to Grumpy Goat who got pipped at the post.

At the same rate, there should be another thrilling installment of What Is It? sometime around the beginning of February!

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

A little joke for you

A guy goes to the supermarket and notices an attractive woman waving at him. She says hello. He's rather taken aback because he can't place where he knows her from.

So he says, 'Do you know me?'

To which she replies, 'I think you're the the father of one of my kids.'

Now his mind travels back to the only time he has ever been unfaithful to his wife and says, 'Are you the stripper from the bachelor party that I made love to on the pool table with all my buddies watching while your partner whipped my butt with wet celery?

She looks into his eyes and says calmly...

'No. I'm your son's teacher.'