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!