Tuesday, 30 December 2008

New Year Resolutions? and some new year plans

I don't actually do New Year resolutions, I never have, I think they are a total waste of time! I gave up smoking a couple of years ago, but not at new year - I did that in February (still going well). I tend to do things when I want to rather than on some society imposed day. I know that a lot of people will have resolutions, but I wonder how many of them will carry them out?

I do, of course have things that I will be doing in the new year (not least of which is looking for a new job!). For instance, in January I have got a week in Paris - three teachers (me and two others) are taking a group of kids on a trip to EuroDisney to study maths! Good eh! It'll be cold, but I am looking forward to that. Then in February I am going to a teacher recruitment fair in London. Mrs DB is coming with me to that so we will have a weekend away (you never know we might win the lottery whilst we are there). Added to that I have an application in for a school in Hong Kong and I will be applying later today to a school in Shangai. Things are really quite exciting!

And what about New Year's Eve, I hear you ask. I'm not really a New Year's Eve type of person - we are going out, we are going to spend NYE with our friends Ted and Alice (and lots of other people), but to be honest I don't care about it and, if we weren't going out I wouldn't be bothered staying up until midnight.

Other than all that, the only thing I want to do is continue with the diet. Mrs DB and I went on the Atkins diet a few weeks ago and the weight was going down quite well. I lapsed a bit over Christmas - had a lot of carbs and the weight went back on. So I shall be cutting the carbs out in order to get rid of a few kilo's - I only want to lose 4 or 5 kilo's and then get my weight steady, it isn't that much but it will make a difference to me and the way I feel so I will be a bit more strict with myself in the new year - but that isn't a resolution!

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Christmas Day

Christmas Day started quite early for Mrs DB and I - we were up and working at about 7:30 or so. We had 7 guests arriving at 3 pm and we were going to feed them. With both a ham and a goose to roast before then (we only have a small oven so there is no way we could do them both together), all the veggies to prepare, a trifle to make, not to mention finding some time to have breakfast in all the preparation.. we rather had our work cut out!

Dinner was planned for 4 pm with our guests arriving at 3. I don't know how we did it, but Mrs DB and I had just about finished everything when our first guests rang the doorbell. To be honest we were knackered! But a glass of champagne soon picked us up.

From then on we had a lovely time eating, drinking and being merry.

About 7 pm saw the arrival of an eighth guest who had been elsewhere for Christmas dinner, she was just in time to sample our Christmas cake.

We all had a wonderful time - the hard work was well worth it, as was the hangover the next morning!

The Christmas Group

Sunday, 21 December 2008

The weekend before Christmas

Apart from failing to copy Christmas albums, Mrs DB and I did some nice things this weekend.

Way back in September, we made the Christmas cake. We have been adding brandy to it on a regular basis - only a little at a time and just once every two weeks to give it time to mature - that way the alcohol will bring out the best flavour in the cake rather than dominate all the other flavours (which I believe it does if you put loads of brandy in all at one go). So the cake is nicely matured and ready for the table. We put the marzipan on it last weekend and then we did the icing this weekend.

The Christmas Cake

That having been done, we spent a good portion of yesterday afternoon decorating the tree.

The Christmas Tree

As always I just couldn't resist doing an available light photograph of it and as you can see it turned out... well, maybe OK. I never really manage to get a good available light photo of the tree even though I always try, I dunno why I just don't seem to be able to manage it.

So we have now started the countdown to the big day - we have seven friends coming round to join us for Christmas Dinner and we are really looking forward to that. Two years ago we had friends round for Christmas Dinner and we had a great time, so we are hoping to repeat that. We are going to have stilton and broccoli soup to start, followed by roast goose, roast ham, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, sprouts with pancetta and shallots, and ginger and orange glazed carrots. Then we will finish with trifle, Christmas pudding and Christmas cake, and of course, cheese and biscuits with port! Lush.

Mrs DB and I have been on a bit of a diet for a few weeks - I think that little lot should undo all the good work, don't you!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Bloody Mac's

There are times when I get totally pissed off with this bloody iMac of ours!

We've had for ages now (at least 2 years) and you would think I would be used to it by now - but no - not a bit of it! Every now amd then it decides to bite me in the ass and really piss me off! Today was one of those days!

It all started three days ago - Mrs DB came home with three Christmas albums... "copy these for me", she asked. "OK", I replied, all the time thinking "oh, shit, why don't you just ask me to make a compilation album from all the Christmas music we already have."

I kept putting it off.

Today arrived... and went - we went shopping, we played crib, I watched Bolton win against Portsmouth and move up to 9th in the Premier league. We got ready for bed... "Have you copied those CD's?" asked Mrs DB. "No, I'll go and do it now."

2 hours later, one of the CD's is lying on the floor where it bounced after it hit the wall - one is copied and the other?... well, it ain't gonna get copied - not tonight and certainly not by me.

You see, with an iMac, copying a music CD is not as easy as it may seem - you can't just open the CD and copy it onto another CD - unfortunately you have to copy it into iTunes first. Now the first CD I somehow managed to copy into iTunes without putting it into my main music catalogue - I don't know how, but I opened a separate folder for it - copying it was then easy, I just copied the folder onto a blank CD.

The second one was not quite as easy - it point blank refused to be copied into its own folder and insisted on being put in my main music catalogue - to the point where I now have 3 versions of the same CD in my main music catalogue and I don't want any of them. It would not go into a folder by itself and I got so angry with it that it is now lying on the floor as I mentioned earlier - but it isn't the CD that is at fault, it is the bloody Mac. Why one should work perfectly and the other be so intransigent I just don't know, what I do know is that it is a bloody site easier with windows - at least with that if it doesn't work you can throw the damned thing out of one!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Camping in Oman - Day 3

The previous night was a lot quieter because the wind had dropped and everyone had a good night's sleep. Just as well because day 3 was a busy one!

We had breakfast early and set off at about 10 am for Jebel Shams, which is over 3000 metres high. The road is absolutely spectacular - steep gradients and hairpin bends all the way. It was a great drive and at times I didn't think our car would get up some of the gradients! But at last we reached the top and we were treated to a breathtaking site that I hadn't anticipated - the truth is my photograph doesn't do it justice at all.

The Grand Canyon of Oman

It is known as "The Grand Canyon of Oman" - I've never been to the one in Arizona but this was a fantastic sight. I believe that it is an example of amphitheatre -ended canyons. I was at 3000 metres here and I have no idea how deep the canyon was but it was truly beautiful and awe-inspiring.

Eventually we dragged ourselves away and headed back down Jebel Shams (which apparently means "The Mountain of the Sun"). Heading for Misfit Al Abreen - about which a little more later - we stopped twice, once for lunch where we were joined by a very friendly goat who seemed to think that our lunch was as much for him as it was for us. This is Alice feeding our adopted goat.

Alice feeds the goat

The second place we stopped was between Jebel Shams and Al Hamra. There were houses built into the hillside - they were fascinating and I just had to get a photo.

An abandoned village built into the hillside

Eventually we reached our second destination, Misfit Al Abreen and again we had a road full of hairpin bends to climb to get there - but it was well worth it. Misfit Al Abreen is a village high on a hillside with a terraced plantation below it with many date palms, but also with orange and lemon trees, banana spikes and many other plants. The village is a working village but is also a living museum and attracts many tourists - we were luck that it was fairly quiet when we arrived so we were able to walk around without too many other people getting in the way - yes, I know that is selfish of me, but there you go! I took lots of photographs whilst we were there, these are just three of them

Misfit Al Abreen

Misfit Al Abreen

Misfit Al Abreen

It was a long drive back to the campsite and it was completely dark when we got there - everyone's nerves were a little on edge, but a couple of glasses of wine made everything better. It had been a fantastic day and we all enjoyed ourselves. The next morning we broke camp and set off on the 400 km or so journey back to Dubai. Before we knew it we were back in 'civilisation'. But as I took the final photograph of the trip, I couldn't help wondering if this place will last as long as some of the places I had seen in Oman and, indeed, if it was as impressive as some of them. I thought the answer to both was 'NO' - you might well think differently.

The Burj Dubai

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Camping in Oman - Day 2

It had been a very windy night - the wind didn't penetrate the tents at all and everyone was warm enough, but it made for a noisy night, tent fabric flapping all over the place, the morning came and everyone was knackered!

We started late - the sun was well up before we surfaced and then we dossed around for a while drinking tea and trying to get enough energy going to make breakfast - eventually we got there!

We decided not to have a particularly busy day, but we didn't want to just sit around at the campsite all day, wasting the day doing nothing. We decided on a fairly short trip to Wadi Damm. We took a drive to the wadi and drove part of the way up it and then hiked up to the dam.

A hike through Wadi Damm

Before the dam there was just the occasional little pool, but after it, things got considerably better - though it was fairly obvious that it had not rained in quite some time. Nevertheless there were some lovely little waterfalls,

A little waterfall at Wadi Damm

and some reasonably sized pools.

One of the pools at Wadi Damm

We spent a little while by the water and then hiked back down the wadi and stopped to have lunch in the shade of a lovely big tree where we had parked the cars.

Lunch in the shade at Wadi Damm

Just behind the tree was a falaj running from the pools and down the whole length of the wadi to an oasis at the bottom. The running water attracted all manner of insect life including some beautiful dragonflies. In addition to the red ones, there were also some that were a beautiful shade of powder blue - but the red ones made the better photograph.

A dragonfly at Wadi Damm

After lunch we drove back to the campsite, getting back round about 4 pm. As the sun dropped behind the mountains the cold set in quite quickly, so we lit the fire early and got on with the dinner. Mrs DB (being a South African) is a remarkable outdoors cook! That night she made beans bredie in the potjie. Beans bredie is a stew made with neck of lamb, runner beans, potatoes and onions and it is delicious! A potjie is pronounced poikee and is a South African three legged cast iron cooking pot which is just like a witches caulron. So the components of the stew were put in the potjie and then it was cooked on the campfire. It was delicious! If you have been a long time reader, you will know how much I enjoy available light photography - this is the potjie bubbling away on the camp fire.

Dinner cooks on the camp fire

And so we reached the end of the day, but before turning in, just look at those stars - I just can't resist the opportunity of trying to get them - you should be able to see orion and the plough and isn't that cassiopea down near the bottom?

The sky at night

I'll tell you about the next day later.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Camping in Oman

Mrs Dubaibilly and I and two of our very good friends, Ted and Alice, have just got back from a three night camp in Oman. What a super time we had! (those of you who have been reading this blog since the start will remember that the four of us went camping at this time last year, that time for a two night camp in Liwa).

I am ashamed to say it, but after 12 years in the UAE this is the first time I have ever been to Oman - well apart from passing through Omani enclaves within the UAE. I am well pleased that I went and so is Mrs. DB.

We left at about 5 am to avoid queues at the border (which worked) and we crossed the border at Jebel Hafeet - I didn't even know there was a border post there! I thought the only border in the Al Ain area was at Al Baraimi - clearly not, there is Hafeet and also another one at Hili. We chose Hafeet and went through the border with minimum fuss and delay. Just over the border we stopped at a beautiful Omani fort and had some breakfast.

Omani Fort

After breakfast we continued on our journey heading for the Hajar Mountains (which, in Oman, can reach up to 3000 metres). A lot of the scenery was fairly bland, but once we reached the mountains it suddenly became quite spectacular! This mountain was a central feature of the area in which we camped and explored.

Omani Mountain

On our way to finding our camp site, we stopped at the Beehive tombs at Al Ayn (no, not Al Ain, that is in the UAE). There are two sets of these tombs in this area of Oman, they date back to 3000 years BC!

The Beehive Tombs at Al Ayn

Eventually we decided to move on and found ourselves a nice little camp site about an hour further on into the mountains. It might look nice a bright - but when the sun went down it was bitterly cold - especially with the wind blowing which it was on the first night!

Our camp site

Keeping well wrapped up was definitely the order of the day (or night), Mrs Dubaibilly here demonstrates camping sartorial elegance!

What the well dressed camper wears

Right, at this stage I am going to stop for a while. The first day of the camp is over and I'll tell you the rest and put some more pictures up later.


It has been a while...

since I last blogged - September the 25th to be exact and I have had a few people asking me when I was going to start again and if anything was wrong. Thank you for your concern kind people.

So, where have I been?

Well, pretty much since starting back at school in August I have been working 11 and 12 hour days and seven days a week - not much time in that for blogging. Somewhere in the middle of that lot the school had a holiday for a week and I was in every day of the holidays trying to catch up with the amount of work put on me by my boss. School teachers have an easy life? Being a Deputy Principal at our school seems to mean giving up your life completely and working ludicrous hours to satisfy the demands of a boss who doesn't seem to understand that people have families that they ned to devote some time to!

Anyway, things have eased up a little recently - on December 1st I was called into his office to be told that I do not fit in with the way the school is headed and given the option of either resigning or being 'terminated' at the end of the school year. To be fair, I was looking for a new job anyway, but I would have preferred to leave on my terms rather than his.

The upshot of this is, of course, no more 12 hour days, no more seven days a week and no more working through the holidays.

So I have got time to start blogging again.

And time to start looking at other people's blogs again. I haven't even looked at blogs for a long time now, so I have a lot of catching up to do with friends in the blogosphere.

And I am looking forward to it - as I am also looking forward to the job hunt - anybody know of an international school that could do with a good Head or Deputy?

Thursday, 25 September 2008

The Omnivore's 100

I first came across this on Lulu's blog, but since then it has popped up on several others, so I thought, what the heck and decided to do it myself.

This is what you do and here are the results:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating. I don't know how to cross things out - I will make them italic instead and maybe someone can tell me how to do crossed out text
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros - don't fancy this, eggs and peppers - might try it but...
4. Steak tartare once, but never again
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding LUSH! First had this when I was 4 from a stand outside of Gigg Lane, Bury Football Club ground - my first ever football match and my first black pudding - heaven (except Bolton lost)
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht Cooked by a lithuanian - delicious!
10. Baba ghanoush - dunno what this is and I am too busy to go to Wiki
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses - dunno about this, I've tried some pretty smelly cheese so I may have - I would given the chance
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes Mmmm, some nice stuff too.
19. Steamed pork buns - steamed pork on a bun? or...
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom ?tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese - when I was a child (under duress) -never again
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda - see 10
31. Wasabi peas - dunno what the first bit is.
32. Clam chowder not in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Prefer coke float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O - not yet
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail One of my favourite meals
41. Curried goat and uncurried goat
42. Whole insects only by accident
43. Phaal - And this is?
44. Goat’s milk preferably in the form of Feta cheese
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more - close but not that much, but I have drank brandy from a bottle costing 3 time that,
46. Fugu?
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut but I don't like them
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear A pain to handle and peal but delicious cold from the fridge
52. Umeboshi?
53. Abalone
54. Paneer?
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal I will admit to this, but I haven't been in a MacDonalds for years and will never eat this again, what is the point, it only cardboard with the flavouring removed
56. Spaetzle?
57. Dirty gin martini I don't understand the dirty bit, but anyway my ex made wonderful gin martinis
58. Beer above 8% ABV Possibly too many of them
59. Poutine - see 10
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolinassuming that this is the stuff that goes in maalox!
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake - dunno about this, there is a bisuit/cake thing that I love that Mrs DB calls pigs ears - would that be the asme stuff?
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho - this is almost italic
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche? absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost?
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu?
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky?
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. FlowersI've had many pints of this and got banned from a pub in York for eating chrysanthemums
89. Horse- once, never again
90. Criollo? chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa?
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Some pics of our home (2)

OK, as promised, some more pics of our home - this is the bottom floor (assuming that you don't count the cellar.

Stairs from the back door

Now, as you come in at the back door ('cos we always use "the tradesman's entrance"), these stairs are directly in front of you. On the right (out of shot) is the entrance to the cellar. At the top of the first flight there are two doors to the right, one leads into the dining room and one into the kitchen. You can see the main bathroom directly in front - that is next to the kitchen. At the top of the second flight of stairs (and to the left when you get to the top) is the front door which I mentioned in the first set of pics of our house, here. The floors and ceilings are both traditionally Skopolitan.

Our Dining Room

This is the dining room and it is the most important room in the house to Mrs DB and I. When we are there we spend most of our time in here - apart from eating and drinking, this is where we play cards and backgammon, it is where we watch the world go by, it is where people will look in through the windows and ask directions to the Castro or where Dmitri pauses to say hello on his way to work in the evening (he works a the Vraxos Bar which has a fantastic location giving it stunning views across the harbour and he is late every night!). I can stand upright in the window and I like to stand there in the morning when it is still cool and watch the comings and goings in the little square in front of the house.

Our Dining Room

This is the view from the window looking into the kitchen, the ceiling is about 2 metres high, but if you are any taller than about 180 cm you need to watch out for that beam - it is pretty solid! Fortunately I am about 172 cm and therefore safe - but the lampshade tends to get me every now and then if I am not careful when I get up from the table.

Our Dining Room

And finally, this is the picture looking from the kitchen into the dining room - we refer to the window as Uncle Sam's window because when Uncle Sam and Aunty Beeb came to stay with us there a couple of years ago, Uncle Sam would put his chair by the window and spend hours just watching the world go by and chatting to the people who went by, tourist and locals alike without an concern that they couldn't understand each other - that was a lovely time and we are hoping to repeat it in Summer 2009.

Monday, 15 September 2008

The cheapest car repair ever!

Oh dear!

The Pajero was ill...

I had to take it to the karma mechanic (5 points if you can say where that phrase comes from - no, don't be looking it up, it's an easy one).

This is the story...

I got in the car the other day and drove it to work - 100 kph down SZR and it's fine - takes the slip road and eases off the accelerator to slow down for the up coming roundabout - revs fell to 0, zilch, nada! Car stalled on me. Steering went really heavy.

It's an automatic - to start it again I have to put it in park which entails coming to a complete halt. Car starts, no probs. But, every time I take my foot off the accelerator the same thing happens.

Start getting worried about this.

Friday morning (the quietest day of the week here) I drove it to the main dealers (no, it is not still under warranty, it is about nine years old, but I can't afford to replace it, don't even want to replace it). So I take it to the main dealers with Mrs DB following me to give me a lift home (via the shops where she could relieve me of even more of my wealth! But I digress...) All the way it is fine whilst I keep my foot on the accelerator but take it off and it tries to stall. I had to drive it with my right foot controlling the accelerator and my left controlling the brake (hence the reason that I chose the quietest time of the week to take it in).

Saturday saw me back at the garage booking it in and explaining to this guy what is happening. By now I am thinking "New automatic clutch mechanism, new automatic gearbox, new engine, plenty-several thousand dirhams job).

"We will phone you when we know what is wrong, Mr Dubaibilly". Yeah, right, I'll look forward to it.

Anyway, the next day was Sunday and I was back at work. My phone rang. The Pajero people.

"Mr Dubaibilly, you can collect your car now if you like".

"How much is it"

"85 dirhams".

"I'm sorry I must have misheard you, I thought you said 85 dirhams".

"Yes, that's right, sir".

"What, eight five with no zero's?"

"Yes, sir".

"Thank you, I'll come and get it then, bye".

Now, 85 dirhams is 23.15 US dollars, 12.94 GB pounds or 16.31 Euros, depending where you are.

I am gobsmacked!

Apparently all that was required was the throttle body and the idling control needed cleaning.

Thank you Al Habtoor Motors who could have really ripped me off but didn't. I think that is the cheapest non-warranty car repair I have had in my entire life!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Some pics of our home

I promised you a little while ago that I would put up some pics of the inside of our house - so these are the first two.

Lounge 1

These are photo's of the lounge. Now, the house has a cellar and three floors. so, if we discount the cellar, this would be on the middle floor.

Lounge 2

Having said that, in the second picture you can see the "front door". The "front door" is on the back of the house, the "back door" which leads to the kitchen and dining room is on the front of the house and there is a staircase between the two. Given that both doors are at street level, you get some idea of how steep some of the streets in Skopelos Town really are!

The empty bookcase in the first picture is just waiting until we have filled up the other bookcase - Mrs DB makes me carry about a hundredweight of books in one of the suitcases every time we go there! Anyway, as I said, this is the lounge, I'll put some more pics up later.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Greek Night

It is Friday evening and in about two hours 6 of our friends will descend on us for a dinner party. Mrs DB and I have decided to have a greek night - not that everything will be Greek, but I don't suppose our guests will know. We've done these a couple of times before and they have always been successful (ask Keefieboy). I usually do a menu in an odd mixture of Greek, transliterated Greek and what I can only describe as Greeklish, and I always put a Skopelitan scene on it as a background. This is tonight's menu:

Greek Night Menu

Now I know that I have some native Greeks who come on here (for example Lulu) and people who are fluent Greek speakers (like Kat) so I hope they will be kind enough to forgive my torturing of the Greek language! My menu's are meant to be fun and I have had guests take them home in the past!

Anyway, I'm looking forward to a good night - much of which will , no doubt, be totally lost in an alcoholic haze by tomorrow!

Yammas! and that isn't the correct spelling either!

Monday, 1 September 2008

Images of Skopelos

I promised you some photo's of Skopelos that I took while on holiday. To be honest, blogging has taken a bit of a back seat since coming back to Dubai. The last two and a half weeks have been really busy getting the school set up for the new year. We had a lot of new staff this year and the changes have made things a bit more difficult than a normal start to the school year for yours truly. Never mind, things will settle down soon, the new staff are beginning to find their feet and find their way around the place - soon they will have to cope because the kids come in on Sunday. We are in Ramadan now and our hours are supposed to be shorter - officially we work from 8 until 1, but for me it was start at 7:30 and finish at 4 and no break for lunch - ah well, when Ramadan is over I guess I will be back to normal - in by 7 and leave at about 5 or even later and still no break for lunch - it is just a matter of getting used to it!

And I shouldn't be using it as an excuse for not blogging. Mrs DB and I (her working hours are every bit as bad if not worse than mine) have agreed to not moan about our day at work to each other no matter how bad it has been - I wonder how long we will last!

Anyway, I promised you some pics, so here they are:

Skopelos Church

This is one of the many beautiful churches on the island - and look at that sky, what a fabulous shade of blue - and yes, it really was that colour!

Plant pots

You just have to love the Greeks - the amount of rusty or battered feta cheese cans or olive oil cans that enjoy a long and serviceable life, standing outside someone's house, doubling as a flower pot is amazing! Me, I prefer terracotta, but I find something really rustic in scenes like these. And, hey, far be it from me to tell people what they can use for their geraniums.

View over the town

This is the view from the top of the town looking down to the harbour and across to the hills beyond. Are you jealous yet?

Well, as promised, these are some of the pix - I may post a few more in a few days. I have also promised to put up a few pix of the inside of the house which I will, but not today.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Skopelos cats

Cats abound on Skopelos. They are everywhere! Now if, like me, you are a cat lover then that is a good thing - I have no problem with them cadging food from the tables in the pavement tavernas. I guess some people may not like it, but it doesn't bother me. What does worry me is the huge number of kittens on the island - I guess they keep the mice and rats down, but I wonder what the mortality rate is amongst kittens - I suspect it must be huge. Anyway, no kittens, but here are some of the cat photographs I took whilst wandering round the streets of Skopelos Town in August.

Skopelos catsSkopelos catsSkopelos cats

The one in the right hand picture above is coming through my kitchen window, which is at street level.

Skopelos catsSkopelos cats
Skopelos catsSkopelos cats
Skopelos catsSkopelos cats

I am sure you will agree that, although most of them are 'street cats' and pretty feral, they all seem to be reasonably well fed. I wonder though how they will survive a harsh winter, because there can be some pretty nasty weather on Skopelos during the winter.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Sartorial Elegance

I think sartorially challenged may be more accurate. Anyway, here it is - cold weather gear in South Africa!


OK, maybe, just maybe, I look dreadful! But, two things, 1) it's comfortable and 2) it's warm. Given that I have lived in Dubai for 11 years now, you will, of course, understand that I have very little that can be described as warm weather clothing!

I also have the other tracksuit to this one, the yellow top and orange pants - that one has a hooded top, but I don't have any pix.

Why these colours? That was all they had!

Monday, 18 August 2008

Back in Dubai

Well, that is it, the holiday is over and we are back, hard at work, in Dubai. We got back on Friday, had Satruday off (What a great time to get back - just in time to watch Bolton thrash Stoke 3 - 1 in the first game of the season!)

This is my first post since getting back and I probably won't do any more until the weekend.

Everybody wanted photo's so I have spent a few hours stitching this panorama of Skopelos Town and Harbour together for you:

Skopelos Panorama

I have got a nice set of pics of Greek cats which I shall put up later and I will also be posting some pix of the inside of our little island home - not forgetting the promised picture of me in my dead posh track suit with an orange top and yellow trousers! Watch this space!

Friday, 1 August 2008


At last! Here we are! For the first time since starting this blog we are back on our beloved island of Skopelos! Wonderful!

It seems so long since we were here last - and it won't be long until we are gone - but it is great to be home!

My God, though, what a journey. We left Aunty Beeb's house in Somerset west at 3pm (CAT)on Monday and opened our front door at 4 pm (CET) on Wednesday. For those who are time zone challenged, CET is 1 hour ahead of CAT so our journey took exactly 48 hours door-to-door, remarkably, to the minute! At least on my watch anyway. And guess what, 24 hours later, the bags arrived! Clearly a 5 hour transfer in Dubai was just a little bit too much for the baggage handlers in DXB to come to terms with! We were smelly when we arrived, but we did have clothes in our Skopelos home to change into. Sadly, since last year when we left them, the Dubaibilly's have put on a kilo or two and an inch or two - fortunately there were a few things that still fit us so we could shower and change! It was a relief when our bags finally did arrive though.

An update on Uncle Sam... he is now sitting up, eating, talking and having physio - great news, he is well on the way to recovery and I am sure he and Aunty Beeb will be with us on Skopelos next year.

Gotta go - Mrs DB is lying by the pool and I have been summonsed! Catch ya later!

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.'

Monday, 30 June 2008

What is it? Number 2 in an occasional series...

So, this is the second in my occasional series of "What Is It?" The first was at the back end of January, so you get an idea of how occasional this series is. Grumpy Goat won the last one and so has a reputation to keep up! Lots of kudos on offer for the winner.

This one doesn't just come with photo's, it also comes with clues in the form of a description, so I guess it should really be called What is it for?, but it isn't!

So, without further ado, what is it?

What is it? 1

It is a blue rubber tube, about 7 to 8 cm long and about 2 to 3 cm in diameter.

What is it? 2

The tube is hollow, the rubber is soft and is about 1 to 2 mm thick.

What is it? 3

There is a pattern cut into each end.

Mrs DB brought it home and, upon being told what it was for, I just had to try it to see if it worked - it does, very well.

So, What Is It? or to be more exact, What Is It For?

Today's cooking

I am just going to rustle up a quick Agni Me Fasolakia for dinner.

This is an adaptation of Lulu's recipe Moschari Me Fasolakia which can be found here.

In case you are wondering, by the way and can't be bothered following the links, agni me fasolakia is lamb with green beens and moschari me fasolakia is beef with green beens.

I think that both will be lovely.


To the newly crowned Champions of Europe, for so long they have been the perennial under-achievers in European football, but last night they finally came good with a 1 - 0 triumph over Germany.

Viva Espana

Sunday, 29 June 2008

A delicious addition to ice cream

Having a bit more time on my hands, I decided to make a blackberry and raspberry coulis today to pour over ice cream after dinner.

This is how:

150 g raspberries
150 g blackberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1 heaped teaspoon cornflour
a little water
1 standard measure vodka

Puree the raspberries and blackberries together and then strain them through a sieve into a pan.
Mix the cornflour with the water to make a runny paste and add it and the sugar to the puree.
Cook on a low heat stirring constantly.
When the mixture starts to bubble and thicken, immediately remove it from the heat.
Add the vodka and stir in well.
Transfer the coulis to something from which it can be poured.

Allow to cool and pour it over good vanilla ice cream. It is delicious.

You can substitute the blackberries with strawberries (indeed you could probably do any combination).

If you have guests round for dinner, it is fun to watch them fighting over the last of it!

The Summer Holidays

As you know by now, I am a teacher and so I am happy to report that the summer holidays have arrived. We finished on Thursday; Friday and Saturday were the weekend, so today was the first day of that long, long holiday that teachers call summer. You know, the one were we get 4 months sat at home or lazing on a beach somewhere...

So what did I do on the first day of my holidays? Yep, you guessed, i went to work! This is the time of year when I catch up on the mountain of paperwork that has built up over the last year - I made a start on excavating my desk today! I will certainly be in for the next week. The only difference is that instead of starting at 06:45 and finishing at 17:30 and not having a break (as is my normal working day), I can now go in at a leisurely 08:00 and finish at 14:30. Because I can now get on with my work without being interrupted every couple of minutes for the entire day.

So that you don't get confused, although I am a teacher, I am one of the Deputy Principals in the school and so my job is more administrative these days (although I do still teach and will continue to do so).

Anyway, I don't suppose I will finish much before the 8th or 9th of July and I am back in on the 17th August, so my 4 months is cut down a little. Never mind, I am looking forward to getting away for a while.

Mrs DB and I are going to spend a few days in Cape Town and about two weeks on Skopelos, and we just can't wait!

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Travels In Xanadu-du by Keef Williamson

Right then, this morning I finished reading Travels in Xanadu-du by Keef Williamson. Not bad considering the last book took me two and a half months to read - this one only took me a week.

So what can I say about it? Well, when I first started it I was put off because I know the author personally and have done for many years - so whilst I was reading, I could hear Keef's turn of phrase all the time - now I've never known another author so obviously I always put my own interpretation on the linguistic nuances that I am reading and I wasn't able to do that this time. Eventually I got over that and got into the story - I would say that I very much enjoyed middle half of the book, I wanted to know what was going to happen to Abimbola and the rest of the gang next and didn't want to put it down. Towards the end though, I got the impression that Keef just wanted it to end. A pity really because it could have ended a lot more strongly than it did

Great literature this isn't, but then it never has any pretensions to be... it is an easy story that doesn't take any effort on the part of the reader (except for the need to refer to the map now and again when you get lost in the geography). I would recommend it for a read on the plane or on the beach, but if your taste in books is Charles Dickens, forget it!

All in all I think it is a good first effort by Keef and I believe that he is currently writing a follow up. I think this is good because it will give him a chance to work on some much needed character development for some of the leading characters who will be travelling in the future of Xanadu-du.

You can buy the book here and personally I think you could very definitely do worse than give it a go.

The Transfer Market

Well, I have to say I am impressed with Bolton's summer signings so far, somewhere in the region of 5 million pounds for Fabrice Muamba from Birmingham City was a good start - this England under-21 international will certainly strengthen our midfield and now it has been announced that we have bought Johan Elmander from Toulouse in a deal worth about 10 million pounds! Elmander is a striker (very much needed at Bolton) who is a full international with Sweden.

I think that both these signings show ambition for the club and perhaps we are not going to be quite as involved in next years relegation battle as we were this season.

Apparently there are still going to be more signings before the season starts - it really does look like Phil Gartside (Chairman) is pushing to keep the club in the Premier League - let's face it having relegation as an ambition would be akin to madness. I am looking forward to the start of the season and, whilst I would be happy with mid-table mediocrity for a change, it would be lovely to be challenging for a Uefa cup place at the end of the season.

Friday, 27 June 2008

How Many?

We were out at dinner tonight and, of course, the subject of what we did for a living came up.

So Joe said, "You're a mathematician then, DB?"


"Y'know, there are only three kinds of people in the world, those who understand maths and those who don't."

Absolute class.

I wish I'd though of it!

Sunday, 22 June 2008

The New Salik Gate

Interesting location for the new Salik Toll Gate on Shk Zayed Road, then. Just before the entrance to the road from the Business Bay Community! That's right, if you are already on SZR you get charged (quite possibly again), but if you are coming out of Business Bay onto SZR, you don't. Gonna be an awful lot of people living there that the RTA have managed to miss - one wonders who lives there now that has that kind of wasta?

Saturday, 21 June 2008

A Change of Books

I feel like I have been reading Duma Key forever!

It is Stephen King's latest offering and, on the whole, I enjoyed it, but I can't remember it taking me so long to read a book before! Of course, I started it about two days before keefieboy's book arrived in the post and I have been ploughing through Mr King's novel whilst all the time knowing that what I actually wanted to read was Keefs book.

So, Travels In Xanadu-du shall be promoted from it's place on the bedside cabinet and I shall, at last, find out what my mate writes like.

I'll let you know, Keefieboy!

Friday, 20 June 2008

The New Season's Fixtures

So, the Premier League fixtures for the 2008/09 season are now out and my beloved Bolton Wanderers start off their campaign with a home match against newly promoted Stoke City on the 16th of August (the day after I get back from holiday, so I shall be able to watch that one!)

I've got to say that newly promoted teams worry me. I can remember us getting promoted to the Premier League and thrashing Leicester City 5 - 0 (and I think that was at Leicester). The newly promoted teams often seem to bring some impetus with them from their promotion campaign, usually it disappears after a few matches and the reality of struggling to survive sets in. But there can be some really odd results in the early days of the season.

Bolton managed to survive a relegation battle by the skin of their teeth last season, and whilst it was exciting, it wasn't much fun! I would not be surprised to see us battling again this season (of course, I'd like to be able to say that we will be battling for a place in Europe, but...) so getting three points against the newly promoted teams at home is an absolute necessity.

Time will tell...

Friday, 13 June 2008

Blatant Profiteering?

Things become clearer...

So, we've just got back from Spinney's with the shopping. Still no ginger ale! But the reason why has become a little more apparent.

There are cans of Schweppes tonic, bitter lemon and soda water; next to them there are bottles of the same products plus bottles of dry ginger, all by the same manufacturer.

6 x 330 ml cans in a shrink-wrapped pack costs AED 5.25 or AED 0.875 per 330 ml.
4 x 330 ml bottles in a shrink-wrapped pack costs AED 18.50 or AED 4.625 per 330 ml.

This represents a difference of AED 3.75 per 330 ml for precisely the same stuff!

To put that another way, the bottles cost 428.57% more per equivalent amount than the cans!

That, to my mind, is blatant profiteering, either by Spinney's, or by Schweppes or by both.

I wonder how long it will be before the cans of tonic, bitter lemon and soda water disappear from the shelves, just like the dry ginger already has.

If you are reading this and you work for either Spinney's or Schweppes, I challenge you to reply!

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Three "Firsts" for me

I went down to Abu Dhabi the other day - no, that isn't one of the firsts. On the way I saw my first Dubai Metro train. There is a section of test track out past Jebel Ali and there it was, just sort of sat there. So I took my first ever photo with a phone - my old mobile didn't have a camera built in. Then today, I transferred the photo to my computer using bluetooth - I've never used bluetooth before!

This is the result:

Dubai Metro Train

Not the best of photographs, don't think I'll be dumping the Canon EOS 400 D yet, but it wasn't bad considering I was whizzing past it at 120kph (by the way, no, I wasn't driving and no, you are not going mad, I took the photo on the way back).

Monday, 9 June 2008

This must be my lucky week

So there I am on Saturday lunchtime (ish) sat in a traffic jam somewhere listening to Radio 2, which is my station of choice and, as usual I had a go at the competition - Young Rog and the guy from Hertz were doing a "Where In The World Am I" quiz - so I texted the answer in.

Got a phone call from Hertz today. I've won a Land Cruiser Prado for three days at sometime when I want it in the next 6 months!

I've always wanted to drive a Land Cruiser!

I hope it is a black one with blacked out windows!

Mrs DB and I are going to use it for a weekend away when we get back from our holidays (about which, more a bit nearer the time).

Sunday, 8 June 2008

My Birthday?

Regular readers will know that today is not my birthday, but I could certainly have been forgiven for thinking that it was!

Not long after I had arrived at school, David Alvioli (no, it isn't) opened my office door and said "Have you got a minute, DB" or words to that effect. OK. Then he said, "I was shopping and I saw this and immediately thought of you and had to get it for you."

Those who know me will know that my taste in ties is outrageous! I like ties with big pictures on them, rather than stripes or spots etc.

So he gave me this package which I opened and found this fabulous tie in there, it is bright red with gold semi quavers and crotchets and minims and things on it along with swirling musical staves - I'll tell you what, a photo would do it more justice!


And this is absolutely right up my street - many thanks to DAV

Then, a few minutes later on of my students came in with a big pink bag! "Mr Dubaibilly", she said, "This is for you, it's an end of year present." Well, what can you say, "Thank you".

The thing is that this young lady is part of the ruling family of Dubai and she decided to buy end of year presents for all her teachers - mine is a Nokia N95 8 GB mobile phone!

I don't know what to say.

So I'm going to break one of my own rules - I never mention anyone on here by their real names (except me once or twice, but this time I will,

Thank you very much to Her Highness Sheika Latifa Al Maktoum, I am very, very touched by your generosity.

So, two lovely, unsolicited pressies on one day - no wonder I thought it was my birthday!


You see, it didn't take long! Not long at all.

I have just checked the tallies for Australia and South Africa on NeoCounter - Australia is still at 17, but SA has gone up to 5. Check it on Feedjit and there is no change!

So I now have proof that one of them is telling fibs! The problem is I don't know which.

For all I know, NeoCounter could be taking hits off the wall or, equally, Feedjit could be totally ignoring hits. Funnily enough I have been in identical situations in certain auction houses in the south of England in the past! But that is another story!

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Feedjit or NeoCounter

I wonder which one is right?

According to NeoCounter I have had 17 visitors from Australia - now, in the time I've had Feedjit it has only ever shown 2, similarly NeoCounter says 4 visitors from South Africa - feedjit says none! I know the flags on Feedjit's map disappear after a while, which is a bit annoying, but I just wonder if it is counting everyone - the trouble is that I don't know when the Australian total reached 17 or when the SA total reached 4 - perhaps I should watch a couple of countries to see when the change and whether both counters show them changing.

Alternatively, perhaps I should get a life and not worry about it...

Nah, can't see that happening!

A new thing from Blogger

So I just went on Keef's blog and he was raving about this new blog toy that he has found. So, I thought I'd give it a go.

What it does is list the blogs that you link to in order of the most recent post and says how long it is since the blog was updated. Seems like fun to me. The trouble is, when you click one of the links, instead of taking you to the blog it takes you to the RSS feed, so you have to click RSS in the address bar at the top to get the blog. I'm not best pleased about that.

Also, mine doesn't seem to display any of the times of last posting. And a couple of "blog type" sites are not actually blogs as far as this new toy is concerned, so I'm not best pleased about that either - perhaps I will get used to it - I dunno, the jury is out at the moment!

Friday, 6 June 2008


After 11 years in Dubai, you kinda get used to the idea that something you take for granted today might not be available tomorrow. Over the years there have been lots of different commodities that have disappeared from the supermarket shelves for a few months only to reappear again later. There have also been a few things which have disappeared permanently - never reappearing!

Some of the things that Mrs DB and I have used in the past that are no longer available include Friskies cat food in soft pouches - Baggins used to eat that stuff exclusively, he point blank refused to eat anything else. One day there was none to be had and it took a while to get him to eat anything at all! Then about 6 months later it came back - we were in Spinney's one day and saw it on the shelves so we bought a years supply. Never seen it since!

We used to use Herbal Essences shower gel - but that would disappear for weeks at a time - every time we saw it we would buy several bottles in case it wasn't there next time we needed it. These days it can't be found anywhere.

And there have been others, but what the heck.

So today, two of our friends, Peter and Mary, are coming round. Now they will probably have a little G&T or two, and when people hare having G&T's my tipple of choice is a rye'n'dry. If you don't know, rye'n'dry is Canadian Club Rye Whisky mixed with Dry Ginger Ale, ice and a slice of orange - delicious!

Guess what, no Dry Ginger Ale, of any make! No Canada Dry, no Schweppes, no other make, not in Spinney's at Umm Sequem, not in Park'n'Shop. Oh dear, as shortages go, I don't think this is a good one.

Dry Ginger

In case anybody from the people responsible for importing this stuff happens to be reading, this is what it looks like.

Get some in, guys!

Saturday, 31 May 2008

What really hacks me off

about using the internet, is that now I can't get away from where I already am anymore!

I go on the BBC news website here and I get adverts for property in Dubai or for shops in Abu Dhabi. And I find them really intrusive. The BBC site obviously reads my IP number (or whatever it is) works out that I am in the UAE and gives me advertising for here. Well, I for one am pissed off with it, I find it intrusive and I don't want it. Just now I was blog trolling again and some guy in Los Angeles had an advertising space on his blog which said something along the lines of 'advertising powered by Google' and it was for a beach community in Abu Dhabi. I'm not interested, I don't care.

If it wasn't such a crappy site, I would change my news site of choice to SkyNews. Unfortunately I like the way the BBC News site is set out - I just don't like the bloody adverts.

Carrots? In a cake?

So, last night Mrs DB and I were invited out to Janet and John's - NO, have you not worked it out yet, Janet and John are not their real names, just like Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice aren't theirs or Dubaibilly isn't mine, but I digress. Bob and Carol where there as well.

So we turned up, bottle of red, bottle of white and four lemons (as you do) and proceeded to have a great night. Let's face it, two jugs of Pimms just to get started, it can't be anything other than a great night , can it.

So, after attacking the Pimms with gusto and having some great fried halloumi with arabic bread and hummous, we all pile into the dining room to sit around the table for dinner. The wine flowed and the moussaka was wonderful. And then the sweet arrived...

Now Dubaibilly's mum brought him up well, and I know that, if I am a guest in someone's house I will eat everything put in front of me and enjoy every mouthful - even if I find doing that somewhat difficult.

But carrots? In a cake? I'm sorry, I don't eat carrots with roast beef. This just doesn't work for me.

However, I was miraculously saved from a fate worse than death. Janet has certain food allergies and one of the things she can't eat is anything with flour in it. As a result she wasn't going to have the dreaded carrot cake, she had made some little macaroons. Now, let's face it, macaroons V carrot cake, I'm sorry this is like Manchester United V Bury - no contest, macaroons win every time, come to think of it macaroons would win over most food for me - I love them! So I ended up eating a whole plate full of these delightful macaroons which had a slight crunchiness to them because she had used granulated brown sugar to make them and they were fantastic.

And so was the rest of the night.

Dubai has some fantastic places to party at... but none of them are a patch on having friends round or going round to friends. What a super evening that was.

After dinner we stayed at the table and and whiled away the evening playing Charadoodles (I think) which got better with every bottle of wine. And then we heard the story of the 1000 dirham tablecloth! I won't go into it, but if you ever decide to buy a tablecloth in Dubai, just be careful that you check the price first!

I never did find out what the lemons were for!

What I like about blogging

So, there I am, wandering through the blogs that I link to, an activity I do fairly regularly to keep up with what other people are up to and I'm on Jin's blog reading the comments on Luxor Lite when I found a comment by someone named Keith.

I have no idea why, but I decided to follow the link and found this absolute gem of a blog so I thought, "I like this, I think I'll link to it so I can come back and check it again". And that is exactly what I've done.

So, Keith, you have got yourself a new fan.

And that is what I like about blogging.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Fighting the Flab

The Dubaibilly's are now officially fighting the flab! Mrs DB has decreed that we have to trim down and get fit! So, today, we wobbled off to our local Carrefour and purchased this beastie:

Torture Machine

Now, the thing with the big fat arse stood on the beast is yours truly, the thing at the side of the beast that looks something like about a hundred and fifty bottles of wine is, in fact, something like about a hundred and fifty bottles of wine and is probably responsible for the fat which Mrs DB wants us to get rid of (or at least its predecessors are)!

The question is, do we get rid of the fat first or the wine first?