Thursday, 20 December 2007

Off On Holiday

Tonight I take part in one of my least favourite activities - travelling!

Odd for an expat to hate travelling but I'm afraid I do. I don't like going to the airport, I hate check-in, I don't like the journey and I don't like the airport at the other end! Tonight we leave our new apartment at about 9:30, take a taxi to Dubai International Airport (always assuming we can get one!), wait around for 3 hours before going to the boarding gate, find out that the flight is delayed for an hour or so, eventually get on the Kenya Airways aeroplane and fly to Nairobi. Then we run through the terminal at Nairobi and jump on another Kenya Airways flight to Jo'burg (don't you just hate people who call it Jo'burg instead of Johannesburg), wait around in Jo'burg for a while and then fly with some other airline to Cape Town, Get out of there, pick up a rental car and drive to Somerset West, getting there about 4:30 - that is 6:30 Dubai time - about 21 hours after we set out.

God, I just can't wait, and just think, on the 4th of January we get to do the whole thing again, only in reverse ~ I wonder if I will have got over the outbound journey by then?

Anyway, there is unlikely to be much blogging between now and when we get back but there should be some nice piccies to put up then.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to anyone who chooses to spend time reading my blog.

Abuse of Power?

I found this whilst sat having a coffee in Ibn Battuta Mall and reading The Times.

In case you don't want to follow the link, here is my synopsis of the story:

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa wanted to fly from London via the Maldives to Sri Lanka. Does he use his own private jet - not as such! Does he book in advance - not so you would notice! No, Mr Rajapaksa demands that 35 fair paying passengers get turfed off the flight so that he and his entourage can get on!

Was this some sort of state visit - no way! Mr Rajapaksa had been to Britain to watch his son graduate from the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth - where, presumably, he was trained to be "An Officer and A Gentleman", unlike his dad!

So what was the upshot of this incident - he wasn't allowed on the flight and the Sri Lankan Government, far from censuring this outrageous man for his disgraceful and anything but diplomatic actions, have threatened to cancel the work permit of Mr Peter Hill, the British head of Sri Lankan Airways, thus effectively sacking him.

Some people, quite simply, have too much power and do not know how to use it!

Into the Knock-Out Phase

Aris Salonika needed to get a draw with Bayern Munich last night to ensure that Bolton got knocked out of the UEFA Cup, but they didn't quite manage it! In fact they got battered 6 - 0!

So now Bolton go through to the knock-out phase in which they will play one of the teams who finished top of their group on a home and away basis. The aggregate score will decide who progresses.

Bolton will face one of the following:

Everton, Panathinaikos, Villareal, Hamburg, Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich, Getafe or Bordeaux

Everton are English, Panathinaikos are Greek, Villareal and Getafe are Spanish, Hamburg, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich are German. Getafe lost 3 - 1 at home to Villareal last sunday and are currently struggling at 14th out of 20 in the Spanish Primera Liga whilst Villareal are ten places above them, Panathinaiakos lost their last game (on Saturday) but are currently 3rd in the Greek Super League while in the German Bundesliga, Bayern Munich are top, Hamburg are third and Bayer Leverkusen (who received a 5 - 2 thrashing on Saturday) are fourth! Finally Bordeaux are third in the French Ligue 1.

So, all in all, in order to keep progressing in the Uefa Cup, I think Bolton's best chance lies in being drawn against Getafe. Of course, if they do draw Getafe, it means that my mate keefieboy will have the opportunity to go and watch the match as Getafe is a city in the southern zone of the Madrid metropolitan area. And Keefieboy lives in Madrid!

The draw is made tomorrow.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007


Baggins is our beautiful ragdoll cat. We've had him for just over four years now. We thought we had lost him this morning but, after a frantic 20 minutes searching the flat and the area outside the apartment block (one of our windows was open and we thought he might have jumped!), Mrs Dubaibilly found him fast asleep under our duvet - that will teach us to make the bed in the morning!

Baggins on the bed

Baggins is usually very happy sleeping anywhere - our bed included. He doesn't seem to be impressed with me stopping his sleep by taking this photograph!

Baggins in the bag

We can't bring a bag or a box into the house without Baggins wanting to get into it!

IKEA Dubai V IKEA Athens

No, it's not a football match!

18 months ago I went to IKEA Athens with the intention of furnishing my home in Skopelos. Now, reasonably, there are no signs in English in IKEA Athens and very few assistants who speak English. We asked at Customer Services for help but got a fairly terse "Ohi" (No).

We spent four and a half thousand Euros in IKEA that day. We ended up with 57 IKEA boxes of various sizes and weights. Whilst Mrs Dubaibilly and I were in the warehouse finding the stuff we wanted not one of the warehouse assistants lifted a finger to help and only reluctantly told us where to look to find an item we were having trouble with. We then had to pay another 750 Euros to get our stuff delivered from Athens to Skopelos. It took a full week to get there. Once we got it there, it cost another 30 Euros to have it brought to our house and then I spent over a week putting the stuff together -to be fair, it looks fine and will be OK for us until we retire.

Yesterday, Mrs Dubaibilly dragged me around IKEA Dubai. We spent four and a half thousand dirhams (about a fifth of the amount we had spent in Athens). In the warehouse an IKEA guy was most helpful - lifting boxes for us and arranging our two trolleys and even offering to push Mrs Dubaibilly's trolley to the checkout for her. They offered us free delivery AND free assembly of our stuff, anywhere in the UAE!

People who live in Dubai often bemoan the lack of customer service in the city - all I can say is "Go try shopping at IKEA Athens".

It's the same company but on different continents - IKEA Dubai really does win, hands down!

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Shifting - The Final Episode

Well. as I told you before, we are now in and happy! So I thought I would share a few during and after pics with you:

Stuff just got dumped anywhere while we were moving

Although we tried to keep things in some sort of order, in truth, we were just dumping stuff anywhere!

Stuff ended up covering every available surface

At one time it seemed that we had stuff covering every available surface!

Mrs Dubaibilly wonders if it will ever be sorted

Mrs Dubaibilly and Baggins survey the mess and wonder if it will ever be sorted

But sorted it was!

And in the end...

And in the end...

It was all worthwhile

It was all worthwhile!

The Holiday Season Fixtures

When you are a British football supporter, the Christmas and New Year holiday season is always an important part of the year. There are a lot of matches over this period and a good holiday season can make a lot of difference to your clubs standing in the league, and therefore to their final finishing position.

Because of the number of games and the (usually) inclement weather, the pitches sometimes leave a little to be desired for Premier League players and injuries abound - thus the clubs with squads full of internationals who have "strength in depth" have something of an advantage. I don't think Bolton Wanderers fall into that category.

So the Christmas fixtures start this coming weekend and we are at home to Birmingham on the 22nd, away to Everton on Boxing Day, away to Sunderland on the 29th, and at home to Derby on the 2nd of January. Now, Everton are currently riding high in the table in 6th place, Birmingham are 15th, Sunderland are 17th and Derby are at the bottom in 20th spot. Now we (and in that "we" I include you dear reader, for now you are a Bolton supporter by proxy), we are 16th.

I don't expect us to win at Goodison Park (Everton), but we have to take all three points against Birmingham, Sunderland and Derby. 9 points over the Christmas break will see us on 23 points for the season so far and well on our way to Premiership survival!

Monday, 17 December 2007

Shifting 3

Well, the weekend (Friday and Saturday here) finally arrived and with it came shifting day.  As always with that sort of thing it was pretty much the day from hell - in fact, it took us two days.  But now we are in our new home and we love it - we actually have space to swing our cat - oh bugger, I forgot I'd locked him in the bathroom, best I let him out now while I'm thinking about it.  That's him out then, now where was I ...

Oh yeah, so loads more space!

Of course, the TV people didn't come, the curtain man didn't come, the Etisalat engineer didn't come to do our ADSL...

But, it is now Monday afternoon, I finished work at noon and don't go back until 13 January 2008!!!!! On the way home, the guy from  Showtime phoned to come and sort the TV out, I got in and the curtain man rang the door bell  and wanted to fix our curtains, and while they were doing their jobs, the man from Etisalat came to fix my ADSL line. 

So, two days after moving in our new apartment is just about perfect - good work by all, the Showtime engineer, the Etisalat engineer and the curtain man.  

Eid starts tomorrow and Mrs Dubaibilly and I can both breathe a big sigh of relief and start looking forward to flying off to South Africa on the 21st for a couple of weeks in Cape Town.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Telecommunications Companies aren't always Cr@p 2

So, there I was, at work, teaching away, when all of a sudden the phone rang.  Aye, aye thought I, better answer that in case it's a phone call.  The voice on the other end of the line (? - is it a line when you are talking on a mobile, perhaps it was the voice on the other end of the microwave - whatever), said "Hello, I'm the Etisalat engineer and I'm here at your apartment to sort out your new phone line".  

Apart from not letting me know when he would be coming so that I could arrange for him to get a key, that was pretty impressive!  The guy at the Etisalat office said it would be done in three days time and that was done in two!  

Well done, Etisalat!  Again!

Now if I could just have my ADSL connection, please.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Bolton Wanderers 4 Wigan Athletic 1

Ye Gads and little fishes.  I thought we'd win, but I can't remember the last time I saw us score four in one match!  Well, unfortunately not all of the other results went our way - could have done without Middlesboro taking 3 points of Arsenal and could also have done with Spurs not picking 3 points up.  But I'm not complaining - that 3 points has taken us up to 14th and helped our season along quite nicely thank you.  

Now, what price yet another top 8 finish for the SuperWhites* this season?

*No, SuperWhites is not a racist statement - shame on you for even thinking that - it is a nickname for Bolton Wanderers and refers to the colour of their shirts.  It isn't their official nickname (that's The Trotters) but it is a coloquial name for them.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Telecommunications Companies aren't always Cr@p

I don't care what you call them, Eatyersalad or Itisalot or even their real name Etisalat - I was dead impressed with their service this morning!

No, honest ~ I went in there and said to the guy on reception "I'm shifting and need to move my landline and ADSL thing to my new address".  "Just fill in these two forms, just this bit here of them, and let me have them back", came the reply.

Did that.  "Go to that man sat there (he pointed) and he will help you", he said.  I went and this charming avuncular gentleman dealt with me rapidly and with courtesy.  "You're not moving far", he said, "you can keep your number, now take a seat and wait for this number to be called",  (giving me a slip of paper with 3011 written on it).

Before I had time to finish thinking, "Oh God, how long is this going to take",  and well before I managed to reach a seat, a sound not unlike Biiing Bonnng met my ears, and a light in the form of 3011 was flashing on and off, so I went and sat down opposite another charming gentleman.  He looked at my forms, said, "Ah, shifting?". "Yes", I replied.

"What is your mobile number?", he asked - I told him.  Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, enter.  "Ah Mr William", he stated.  "Yes", I replied.  "You have a passport copy?" ~ Ah haa, I've been down there before!  

I gave him my passport copy and he said, "Thank you, it will be done in three days time, good bye".  "Hang about, I've only been in here 5 minutes so far, aren't you supposed to keep me pointlessly waiting around for another hour or two yet?", I almost said, but then the sensible bit of me decided that I should keep quiet!

Well done Etisalat, a task that I had been dreading was accomplished really quickly and easily thanks to the efficiency of your staff!  Of course, who knows what will happen in three days time.

Watch this space.

Why is Blogging Hard Work? 2

Just had a bollocking from Mrs Dubaibilly for blogging when I should have been shifting!  Oops

Friday, 7 December 2007

Red Star Belgrade v Bolton Wanderers Update

Red Star Belgrade 0 Bolton Wanderers 1


As I predicted a win in Belgrade for the Wanderers - we now are on top of our group but need to wait for the results on 19 December to see whether we will actually progress to the knock out phase!

In the meantime, bring on Wigan - three points for the Wanderers there methinks!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Shifting 2

Mrs Dubaibilly has decreed that this weekend is when we start moving into our new apartment. Not much chance of any rest then, she came home today with this trolley thing to help us with the move - I'm guessing that every spare minute between now and next weekend will see me moving something from our current apartment to our new one.

Be interesting to see how our cat, Baggins, reacts to the new place.  I'll put some pictures of him on the blog this weekend if I get the chance. 

Red Star Belgrade v Bolton Wanderers

49 years ago my dad took me to watch my very first professional football game - Bury v Bolton Wanderers at Gigg Lane.  I have spent the rest of my life supporting Bolton Wanderers.  These days I have to support them from something of a distance (about 4000 miles) and it is a bit too far to go to the games.  It doesn't make any difference at all.  

Tonight they continue their foray into the UEFA Cup by travelling to Belgrade to take on Red Star.  I reckon we are going to turn Red Star over tonight.    I'm feeling confident that we will progress to the knockout phase.

I think, despite a 4 - 0 hiccup away to Liverpool last Saturday, we have now turned the corner in our season - beating Man Utd 1 - 0 at home has done us the power of good and we can build on that this coming Sunday when I fully expect to watch them trounce the pie-eaters (Wigan) at the Reebok.  At least I will be able to watch the game - it will be live on the TV over here!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007


In Dubai, the word 'shifting' refers to the act of moving to a different abode.

So, Mrs Dubaibilly and I are 'shifting'.  My jobs comes with a 2 bedroom apartment and we've been stuck in a 1 bedroom apartment for quite a while now.  Well, just recently a 2 bedroom apartment in the same compound (but different building) that we currently live has come up and we are moving in to it.

Full marks to my employers - they didn't say here's a new apartment you need to move in right now, they asked me when I would like to move and when I said, "Over the next two weekends, please", they replied, "No problem".

Excellent - now if only I can get the telephone company to provide me with a landline and an ADSL connection in the new apartment everything will be just dandy! 

Too Old for Refereeing?

So, after the exhausting weekend down in Liwa, yesterday saw me back at work.  At the end of the day I had a football match to referee and, boy, am I suffering for it now!  I pulled a muscle in my calf and, rather stupidly, played on for the rest of the game.  As a result I am in considerable pain today!  Had a hot bath when I got home last night, took a Voltaren tablet with dinner and rubbed some Voltaren Emulgel into the sore calf last night and again this morning.  It's sore but it is a lot easier than it was yesterday!

Too old for refereeing?

Not a bit of it! 

Monday, 3 December 2007

Some More Liwa Pix

Cloud formations are rare in the UAE for most of the year and, whilst you do see clouds at this time of year, I thought that this formation was particularly unusual.
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The moon was particularly beautiful that night.

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Then, getting up for a pee first thing in the morning, I was met with this magnificent sight of mist in the valley between the dunes.

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Visiting Liwa

Went camping over the weekend.  Y'see, here in the UAE it was National Day weekend - the UAE was 36 years old - many happy returns!  We had a long weekend to celebrate.  So Ted and Alice (no, of course that isn't their real names) and Mrs Dubaibilly and I all went off to the Empty Quarter to have a two day camp to celebrate.  All organised by Alice.  And what a splendid time we had.

Alice had said that we should bring a poem or story to relate round the campfire so I decided to write one (no, I am not a poet).  

Now, my favourite poet is one John Cooper Clarke (or Johnny Clarke as he now seems to have restyled himself), and my favourite poem of his is Evidently Chicken Town.  So I wrote a poem and I styled it on John Cooper Clarke's Evidently Chicken Town.  Although it is styled on JCC's poem, it isn't meant to be recited in the same way,like on this video, it is meant to be considerably slower.  But you can read it however you like - or not at all if it comes to that.  Anyway, here it is:


The fucking sand is everywhere
It gets into your fucking hair
It gets into your fucking clothes
It gets right up my fucking nose

The fucking camels walk around
On fucking sand that's fucking brown
It covers all the fucking land
So all your see is fucking sand

The fucking bits of fucking green
Are very rarely fucking seen
The fucking camels eat them fast
The fucking sand won't let them last

The fucking desert stretches miles
With fucking sand piled up in piles
Too many fucking dunes to bash 
And too much fucking campsite trash

The fucking cars get fucking stuck
In fucking sand - hard fucking luck
You let the fucking tires down
But not enough you fucking clown

At last you reach the fucking site
For camping out all fucking night
You fucking pitch the fucking tent
The fucking sand gets in the vent

The fucking braai won't fucking light
The fucking mossies fucking bite
Your fucking mates are chugging beers
The fucking sand gets in your ears

It's fucking time to fucking eat
The fucking flies are on the meat
The fucking sand's their fucking home
You fucking wish that they were gone

The fucking boys with quad bike toys
Drone through the night - a fucking noise
You fucking hope that they don't land
Right on your bit of fucking sand

It's over now, you're fucking home
Unpack the car and fucking moan
About your fucking hangovar
and fucking sand that's in the car

But do you fucking understand
It won't last long, this fucking sand
So build a fucking bigger mall
Till fucking concrete covers all!

I took some photo's whilst I was there and I thought I'd share a couple with you:

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As you can see, the sand makes our car look small! This was taken during the early evening just as the sun was setting and the one below is a completely un-Photoshopped sunset

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Why Is Blogging Hard Work?

This is crazy - so many people blog that it must be easy - surely!  Even someone 10 years away from retirement could do it with no probs - ha!

So I signed up, chose my template, decided I ought to say why the blog is called what it is called and tried to put a picture in.  No problem.  You have to be joking!  

Will it let me upload a picture from my computer - well, it says it will but it wouldn't.  No, I have to upload my picture to photobucket and then load it from there to here - why?  Will it let me put the picture where ever I want it in the text?  Well it says it will but it wouldn't.  No, I have to go into the edit Html tab and place it manually - why?

And then, whilst I'm doing all this the computer decides to have a tantrum so I had to turn it off and turn it back on again (at that point I decided to multitask and went for a shower and a shave etc).  So I come back - go into the blog making thing, (as you can see by the terminology I am now a virtual professional), choose to edit my saved draft - would it let me?  Well it says it would but it wouldn't.  No, I have to rewrite the damned thing and delete all the work I've already done.

Still - it works, I've done two posts and I haven't even started the post that I joined up to do.  Perhaps I'll do it later, but there are going to be lots of photo's in it - this one could be difficult!  Time will tell.

Waiting for Skopelos?

I guess all blogs have a name, but why "waiting for Skopelos"?

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This is the beautiful Greek Island of Skopelos and in particular Skopelos Town and Harbour.

And this is where Mrs Dubaibilly and I own a home.  We live and work in Dubai but I have ten years to go to retirement and Mrs Dubaibilly wants to knock all this working for a living stuff on the head in about 7 years and this is where we are going to retire to.

Wouldn't you be "Waiting for Skopelos"?